When all you know is heartache because of death, you’re surrounded and encompassed by tears and pain. Experiences of terrible loss flood your mind with despair and sadness. Grief, in the early days, takes over your mind.
“I am a sojourner on the earth; hide not your commandments from me!” Psalm 119:19
Tears make daily visits. Mourning, even with hope, is a long and arduous journey. The very title of my blog, Facing Loss, is a reminder that death is always top-of-mind. It’s healthy to face loss head-on. But, it’s painful and enduring. It’s real, and it won’t go away. Or so it seems. It must be acknowledged and not ignored. By nature, loss is enveloping. It’s like your daily clothing.
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4
However, every now and then, foreign longings sneak into your heart—at least they seem foreign to you. To your current circumstances. Thoughts of hope and a victorious future peer out of your heart looking for a hint of light in the darkness. Darkness and dread prevail. However, small flashes of light begin to emerge. Truth speaks into your experience if you’re exposing yourself to truth. It takes unnatural, against-the-flow discipline.
Future tense, he will wipe away every tear. Death will be no more. There will be no mourning. There will be no crying. Pain will be finished. Foreign longings reveal the hope for a day when all the former things will pass away.
In the dungeon of early grief, it’s difficult to remember, recall, and rehearse messages of future hope. Hope is an obscure, distant, and foreign longing. But, the longing can be brought near and revived.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
It takes rehearsal to remember hope. It takes faith to embrace hope. As foreign longings arise, faith is reinvigorated. The hope of the gospel gives context to tears, death, mourning, crying, and pain. The gospel gives renewed birth to foreign longings during horrible loss.
“Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.” Proverbs 23:18
It’s important and helpful to recognize when traveling through a land of loss, there is a future hope that may seem like a foreign land. Jerry Sittser, in A Grace Revealed, provides much-needed clarity when he says, “…we must resist confusing sign and reality, resuscitation and resurrection, shadow and substance. In short, we must hold out for the real Heaven—Heaven not just for our benefit but for the world’s benefit; Heaven not simply for now but for all eternity.” By faith, take hold of the new land even while in a land of pain. Remember and take heart.
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 6:33
Living in lament creates foreign longings. In the world, you will have tribulation. Therefore, look with a longing expectation for heaven’s hope. Yes, we can have joy in this world, even in grief. But, full and final victorious hope only comes when faith has become sight, and heaven is realized as our hoped-for home.
We have foreign longings because we are not citizens of this world. So, we thrive in his promise for today and wait in patience for the joy that is to come.
“But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” 2 Peter 3:13