Death, Grief, Season of Darkness and the Lord’s presence.

Devotional Thought of the Day:
 I should honour Christ with the utmost boldness by the way I live, whether that means I am to face death or to go on living. For living to me means simply “Christ”, and if I die I should merely gain more of him. I realise, of course, that the work which I have started may make it necessary for me to go on living in this world, I should find it very hard to make a choice. I am torn in two directions – on the one hand I long to leave this world and live with Christ, and that is obviously the best thing for me. Yet, on the other hand, it is probably more necessary for you that I should stay here on earth. That is why I feel pretty well convinced that I shall not leave this world yet, but shall be able to stand by you, to help you forward in Christian living and to find increasing joy in your faith. So you can look forward to making much of me as your minister in Christ when I come to see you again! Philippians 1:18 (Phillips NT)

879 Death comes and cannot be avoided. What empty vanity it is, then, to centre our existence on this life. See how much many men and women suffer. Some suffer because life is coming to an end and it pains them to leave it; others because it is going on, and they are sick of it… In neither case is there room for the mistaken view that makes our passage through this world an end in itself. One must leave that way of thinking behind and anchor oneself to another, an eternal one. A total change is required, to empty oneself of self-centred motives, which pass away, and to be renewed in Christ, who is eternal.  (1)

When I realized what I needed to write this morning, I wanted to not write it. I sat at my desk trying to find a reason not to write it…

But write it… I must?

This season is so incredibly hard, as I look around me and see the damage that death can do.  The family agathered around a bedside, waiting for what they know is coming.  A friend dealing with the family struggles that have appeared as they grieve the loss of a family member. Trying to think of ways to bring the Holy Spirit to them, and to all who are grieving, even while grieving myself. Other friends whose grief is not found in loss, but found in their present existence.  The darkness so well described by the words of St. Josemaria Escriva, the people who are struggling with life coming to an end, and those who struggle with living life, and want Jesus to return, because life is too full of pain. I know that feeling – even somewhat joke about it, “Lord can you come back NOW!?”  

Perhaps it is  not always as much of a joke, as a cry of pain, or tiredness, of trying to see where God is working, and not even realizing that He is working at our side, in us, through us.  Yes, I want Christ to return, but do I want Him here just so the suffering ends.  I want His return so we can enjoy His presence… well – at least that is what I want… to want.

Apparently Paul knew these words as well – the passage quoted above echoes those feelings well.  They speak comforting words, words that mean we can reveal the challenge of life these days, in the manner He did, and come to the realization that Paul did.  To realize that this life isn’t just about “us”, our wants, our “comfort,”  That peace comes from living in Christ, not avoiding the challenge, not avoiding the pain, but allowing Him to strengthen us and lift our weary heats.  I like St. Josemaria’s words here as well, “A total change is required, to empty oneself of self-centred motives, which pass away, and to be renewed in Christ, who is eternal.”  To realize that this change has already begun, as the Holy Spirit calls our lives to be united with Christ’s death on the cross, that we can be share in His life, that we share in His ministry.  That when we go to someone’s aid, and do not have the words, His presence with us, will be there for them.  That our prayers and study will prove fruitful in those moments. That we can bring joy and peace to those who need. Often it is at our weakest, that we see God’s presence the clearest, or that others see His presence with us. To know that our burdens are exchanged at the altar forHis Body and Blood, an echange of “burdens”, on that drags us for one that brings us aware of His peace, the peace in which we do live!.

It is in those moments, when Christ’s presence is so… evident, as His work in our lives we can perceive, that we find the strength in Him to keep going.  to keep serving, to keep being present… even as He lifts us up.

which will fire our desire for His return, not because of what we are enduring – but simply because He is… our God.

“Lord have mercy” we cry… listen and hear His answer… “I am with you!”

(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 3592-3597). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God's saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on December 20, 2013, in Devotions and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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