Randall Caselman

Bella Vista Church of Christ

11/05/2017 A.M.

 

From Mourning To Joy

“A Journey Through Grief”

John 14.1-6   Psalm 23.1-6 Revelation 21.3-4 & 7

 

It comes all of a sudden like most storms in life do... It’s calm one moment...Then our world tumbles in... Joy in the morning... And the day ends in grief.

It happened like this in the life of Jesus...

 

The air was filled with anticipation... I mean... Here we are standing in the cemetery... Before the grave of a friend... The whole town of Bethany is there... Weeping... And Jesus speaks three words... Lazarus come out...

• The earth shakes beneath their feet...

• The grave is opened...

• Lazarus is alive.

 

Wow...Surely this is He... Messiah... He’s healing the sick...Casting out demons... Giving sight to the blind... Raising people from the dead...

 

Now even the Gentiles are saying to the Apostles... Sirs... We would see Jesus… We want to know more about Jesus.

 

Then there’s the triumphal entry... Common folk of Jerusalem are singing Hosanna... Proclaiming Jesus to be King of Israel.

 

Expectations are high... Something big is about to happen... Imaginations are running wild... Evidenced by a mother asking places of authority for her sons... On the right and left of Jesus as He comes into His Kingdom Power...

• Today is Passover...

• Tonight is the Passover Supper...

God worked miraculously in Egypt fourteen hundred years ago... Maybe He’s about to work something miraculously tonight... During this Passover Supper! The Apostles were so certain that He was.... That they begin to argue about who was to be greatest in this New Economy.

 

Indeed...Tomorrow will be a great day... Amen?

 

But Jesus knew something that the rest of those in the room didn’t know... That grief was just around the corner for all of them... Judas... The twelve... Jesus’ mother... Extended family... Even Jesus himself... A storm is brewing... Life is about to tumble in.

 

Our study this morning is about grief...

It happens to all of us... It’s not if...But when.

 

We’ve all lived long enough to know that even if the sun is shining... today...Now... It won’t be long until storm clouds gather... And sometimes they gather quickly...

• Next week...

• Tomorrow...

• Tonight...

• Perhaps this afternoon...

• Maybe on the way home.

 

Facing grief is inevitable... Some in our church family are dealing with it today... Even as we speak… Others are just recovering... For some of us... It’ll be tomorrow.

 

Church...We’ve been there before... In the Grip of Grief... And we’ll be there again... That's just the way life is... So today’s lesson is a useful one... Let’s see what we can learn.

 

We start with some definitions... Grief... Grieving... Mourning... Are terms that we frequently use interchangeably... But there are subtle and distinct differences...

 

Grief is a... Normal...Natural... Emotional distress caused by a loss... Any loss...

• Loss of our... car keys... billfold... credit card...

• A car... house...

• Loss of a job...

• Our health...

• The death of a loved one...

• For the Christian it might be some spiritual or moral failure... Like Peter’s denial of Jesus.

 

With any loss... There’ll be some amount of grief... The depth of grief is proportional to the value of the loss.  There’s a significant difference between the loss of our keys and the loss of a loved one.

 

Grieving is defined as the process of feeling and experiencing grief... coming to terms with one’s loss...

Grief is a journey... Not an event...

Grief is not something we get over... It’s something we journey through.

• A family never gets over losing a son or daughter... Did David and Bathsheba get over the loss of their first son?... NO!

• A devoted spouse never gets over the death of their companion of decades.

• We never really get over... A collapsed career... The loss of a business... A home.

 

Those in Houston... the Florida Keys... those in Santa Rosa... will never get over their loss in the floods and fires.

 

• One doesn’t get over the devastating announcement that they have cancer or heart disease.

 

Grief is not something we get over... It is the process of learning to live with our losses.

 

Mourning is simply the outward expression of an inner state of Grief...

• Mourning may display itself as tears...

• Perhaps displayed by the wearing of black... Maybe a ribbon or armband...

• A trip to the cemetery... Weeping at the grave… Talking to the deceased.

 

I want you to know this... this morning... Grief is absolutely normal... natural.

 

• We see the normalcy in Job’s grieving over the loss of His children... His wealth... health... and friends...

 

• Jacob grieved the supposed loss of Joseph.

 

• We’ve seen... Mary... Martha... Friends... Grieving at the death of Lazarus...

 

• Isaiah said of Jesus... He was despised and rejected... A man of sorrows... Acquainted with GRIEF... He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrow.

 

• In the Garden... We witness Jesus struggling with grief.

 

You see... Grief is not... A Disorder... A Disease... A sign of Weakness... It is a Physical... Emotional... Spiritual... Necessity... It’s the price we pay for our losses.  And the only cure for grief is grieving...Making the journey of Mourning our loss.

 

Now...Let’s return to our narrative of the last hours of Jesus’ life...

And see what we can learn in application on our Journey Through Grief...

 

First... Be prepared.... Don’t let the loss overwhelm you.

We’ve already noticed that grief is inevitable... It’s not if... But when... So Jesus gives His company two statements of preparation in John fourteen... Let not your heart be troubled... Believe in the Father and believe in Me.

 

Listen to me church...

• Grief has the ability to wipe us out...

• It has the ability to do us in...

• To overwhelm and destroy.

Judas is our example... He wasn’t ready for the awesome emotional baggage grief brings... So he took his own life.

 

This is still happening today... We’ve all known those... Who for one reason or another... Could not cope with their loss... So with… A gun… A rope…A pill… They made grief an event instead of a journey.

 

Jesus gives us the coping mechanism... Faith in Him and the Father...

We have faith in a lot of things today...

• Faith in Education... Faith in our careers our job...

• Perhaps our financial status...

• Family... Friendship connections…

• Business and professional networking…

• Faith in the church...

All of these are important... But sometimes... When grief settles in... They fail to provide the comfort we need.

 

We must rely on our faith in God His presence and power at work in our life.

 

First John 5.4 & 5.5 says... For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith... Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

 

David  expresses this fact so well in the 23rd Psalm... When the Lord is our Shepherd... There is no reason to want or fear... Because He provides all we need.

 

So the question this morning becomes... Are we prepared for what’s next on life’s agenda?  Are we?... Really?

 

Is our faith strong enough to enable and sustain our journey from mourning to joy?

 

Secondly... Jesus said... Look beyond today... Look beyond the event.

In My Father’s House are... many abodes... Many Mansions.

 

Jesus is reminding us that... This is not all there is to life... Tomorrow will bring healing.

 

For these Apostles... The grip of grief disappeared three days later when Jesus was raised.

 

Paul said... Forgetting the past... I press on toward the goal... I press on toward my heavenly calling... There’s a better day coming.

 

Revelation speaks of a time when there’ll be... No more grief... No more tears... No more pain... No more death... No more losses.

 

Grief is a journey... However… We must not become stuck in our grief... But look forward to God’s promise of a better day coming.

 

David and Bathsheba did this in their loss... David said... I can’t bring our son back... But I can look forward to the day I can go to him.

 

Paul said… To be absent in the body… Death… Is to be present with the Lord.

Indeed… There’s a great day coming!!

 

Don’t forget to pray.

Have you noticed how often Jesus prayed in this grief setting?

 

• He prayed for the bread and wine in the Passover Meal...

 

• John chapter 17 is nothing but a prayer... Jesus prays for himself... the apostles...for us...

 

• He prays three times in the Garden... When we put the Synoptic together... We find Jesus kneeling in prayer... Then prone in the dirt... Begging God for relief.

 

• He asks others to pray for Him...

 

• Three of the seven phrases Jesus uttered from the cross were prayers...

He prays for those responsible for His death... For their forgiveness… Forgive them… they know not what they do.

 

He asked the Why question of God... It’s OK to ask the why question…Jesus did!

And He said... Into Thy hands I commit My Spirit.

 

Know this church… There’s no way to manage our grief without prayer.

It was James who ask in rhetoric...

• Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray.

• Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise.

• Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

 

James is saying... I want you to live like you sing...

• Pray in the morning...

• Pray in the evening...

• Pray at the noontime...

Pray all the time… Prayer helps turn our grief to Joy... Amen?

 

Involve friends in your journey... Ask others to walk with you.

As far as we can determine... Jesus takes eleven to the Garden. He takes three... Peter... James... and John into a more intimate closer circle.

 

There...Matthew and Mark record Jesus saying... My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death... Watch and pray with Me.

 

Is it possible for grief to overwhelm us to the point of death?... Jesus was at this point... So he asked others to help.

 

You see... The Journey of Grief becomes easier when we find someone to walk with us...

• Someone to talk to...

• Someone who will listen...

• Someone we can confide in...

 

Today...Therapists tell us that we need to verbalize our... Doubts... Fears...Wants... Dreams... and Losses... It helps us walk-the-walk of grieving.

 

Frequently I hear people say... Now... Now... Let’s not talk about it anymore.... No!!...NO!!!... NO!!!... Talk about it.

 

Read the narrative... Three times Jesus want back to his friends to talk about his grief... And they were asleep. They had the potential to help Jesus that night... But failed.


Talk to others... Share your fears... Verbalize your grief.

 

One more...Understand that there are times when God will not remove the grief... But will strengthen us for the Journey.

That night Jesus asked the Father to remove the cup of suffering... But God’s will was that He endure the cross for our sake… God’s will was that Jesus...

• Face the storm...

• Experience the storm...

• Walk through the storm...

• Suffer the cross.

For you.. and your preacher.

 

So Luke says... After he prayed... God sent an angel to come minister to Him...Strengthen Him... So he could endure the cup of the cross.

 

Paul endured a similar situation... as he prayed for his thorn in the flesh to be removed.

The answer was...

My grace is sufficient...

I will give you strength to overcome...

I will calm you... Paul... But not remove the storm.

 

Later we hear Paul say...

If this is the strength I am going to get...

If this is God’s grace at work in me...

Give me more thorns... Because when I am weak... He makes me strong.

That’s Second Corinthians 12.10... Read it again!

 

He goes on to say... I delight in weaknesses... I delight in insults... I delight in hardships... In persecutions... In difficulties... For when I am weak... Then I am strong.

 

You see... Sometimes God gives us inner strength and calm so we can endure our Journey Through Grief... So we can move from Mourning To Joy.

 

Indeed...Grief has a purpose... It’s a mechanism God has given us to help deal with our losses... Both small and great.

 

Of all people... As His Children... We are the ones who should... Know about... And benefit most... From this CONCEPT of grief.

 

I don’t know what you are grieving about this morning... But I do know this...God is ready to help... He is ready to accompany you on your journey...Providing you with all that you need to move from Mourning To Joy.

 

Are you here this morning and not a child of God... Are you grieving over past sins?

 

Again...God provides a means of joy... By faith... Repentance... A changed life... Confession of Jesus... And being born again in New Testament Baptism... All your past sin can be forgiven.

 

Maybe as His child... You are grieving over some secret sin... God is ready to forgive any sin that you will acknowledge... John is found saying…  If we confess our sins... He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.... If we walk in the light... As he is in the light... We have fellowship with one another... And the blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin.

 

Come partake of His JOY as we stand and sing together.