4 “Happy are people who grieve, because they will be made glad.
At the wedding ceremony of my father in law, Duke, to Peg, the pastor took a bundle of sticks tied together in one hand, and a single stick in the other hand, and held them up for all to see. He said, “This bundle of sticks is hard to break because they are strong together,” and he tried to break them with two hands, but he couldn’t. Then he said, “but this lone stick is easy to break, because it’s alone,” and he snapped it with one hand. “Like this bundle of sticks, we are bound together by God’s love. That is why we need to share our love and support with our family and church community, because God created us to love and support each other, and to share Christ’s love for us with the world.”
After the wedding, that bundle of sticks tied together with a ribbon, was displayed on their hearth. A month later, my father in law suddenly died. When we came back from the funeral, that bundle of sticks was still on the hearth, and all of us felt broken. To have had such joy at their wedding the month before, and then to feel such devastating grief seemed unbearable. The out pouring of love and support from the church, for Peg and our family, helped us to navigate our grief through the mourning process. Like that bundle of sticks, we felt tied together by God’s love.
Hearing Jesus say “Happy are those who grieve,” seems contradictory, almost cruel, and that’s because it’s a paradox. We aren’t at all happy to be grieving, it feels as if nothing could be worse. But Jesus has overcome sin and death, He is the resurrection and the life. Through Jesus we have joy that can’t be taken away. At such a time in our lives, we may not be able to feel God’s love and comfort, but we are surrounded by people who are able to bring us comfort, to be there for us, to help us feel the physical presence of God’s love. We come to experience that comfort and healing from grief that only God can bring.
By Jeneene Reduker
For Pondering & Prayer
Remembering our loved ones creates space to be in that “thin place,” that place where we feel the presence of God, to mourn and be healed. Whether we are grieving our loved ones, or the one bringing comfort, we know that we are bound together by God’s love. Are you grieving for a loved one? God loves you and is with you. Do you know someone who is grieving? How can you be a comforting presence to those who are grieving?
Prayer: Loving God, we miss our loved ones who have died. Be with us in our grief. We trust and hope in you and thank you for the comfort that comes from you and your Spirit and through those you send to comfort us in our grief. Amen.