Category Archives: Hope

Grieving with Hope

My Mom always said she wanted to be buried with a fork in her hand, because at every church pot luck, someone would say, “Keep your fork, the best is yet to come.”

We often talk about Christian hope, but we have trouble defining it.

In common use, “hope” is either as an emotion— “I feel hopeful” or an uncertainty—“I hope this will happen.”

But in Scripture and through the gospel and the possibility of a relationship with God made right, not based on our own merit but completely provided by the substitutionary death of Christ—our hope, was not just an emotion nor was it uncertain.

Biblical hope is a certain anticipation.
Not just simply belief in a truth, but an inspiring expectation, that the best is truly yet to come.

A young lady my mother had been mentoring mentioned to Mary Anne that she had not seen Christians grieve before.

So we have desired to grief with hope.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:13, we are instructed that, in light of the reality of resurrection and the coming of the Lord, “that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.”

But we do grieve.
Grief hurts. There is a sense of pain from the loss.
Grief is numbing.
Grief brings a deep sadness.

Grief comes in waves, and they are cyclical. You don’t just go through them once.
Grief is not something you “just get over”—quickly.

Biblical hope is not a wish—“I hope so”
Biblical hope is not just an emotion—“I feel hopeful” or “I don’t feel hopeful”
Biblical hope is not just the reality of information—“I know there is a heaven”

Biblical hope has a certain focus—a focus not just on truth, but the One, Jesus Christ, who declared the truth.
Biblical hope has an excitement or anticipation to it—it looks to the future and therefore impacts the present.

Biblical hope is a certain anticipation

Biblical hope enables us to focus on the certainty of God’s word, the Person and work of Jesus Christ, including taking our place on the cross—freeing us from the guilt of sin and giving us His righteousness.

Biblical hope enables us to anticipate without fear the joyous, glorious reunion with Jesus Christ in the presence of God the Father.

Biblical hope does not remove present pain and difficulty—it provides perspective for pain and difficulty.

Biblical hope does not just provide an emotional relief—it provides a settled deep abiding peace even in the face of the uncertainty of life, when the tears come or when the hurt rises.

Biblical hope…
Motivates our daily walk
Inspires our service
Comforts our grief
Assures our doubts
Energizes our faith
Directs our perspective

Grief with hope is not a plastic, emotionless denial of pain.

Grief with hope is not fatalistic but believes in an all wise, caring, personal, good God.

Grief with hope should not be a solo role; it believes not just the truth of eternal life or the resurrection but the true nature of the Body of Christ.

Grief with hope is a moment by moment walk of faith that regularly must refocus on the certain anticipation of meeting Jesus.

Grief with hope is the certain expectation that the impact of the curse of sin has been defeated by Christ and that death truly has been swallowed up in the victory of Christ and that death truly has a limited sting.

My prayer is to grieve with hope.
To walk through, not stay in, the dark shadow of the valley of death.
To have a stronger more seasoned faith.
To be able to better comfort others who grieve.
To give a faithful testimony through word and deeds, to the certain anticipation of meeting Jesus face to face, in His full glory—fully forgive, fully transformed, fully alive.

Stephen C. Kilgore

March 2015

Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken

I’m in a study in the Upper Room Discourse or what I prefer to call the Farewell Discourse in John 13-17.  As I work through the end of John 15 with the challenging warning of the coming persecution, I heard this beautiful hymn. The focus is the full salvation yet awaiting.

“Yet how rich is my condition! God and heaven are still my own.”

“Haste thee on from grace to glory, armed by faith, and winged by prayer.”

“Hope shall change to glad fruition, faith to sight, and prayer to praise.”

(Thanks to Dane Ortlund for posting the video)

JESUS, I MY CROSS HAVE TAKEN

Text: Henry Lyte

Music: Bill Moore

1. Jesus, I my cross have taken,
All to leave and follow Thee.
Destitute, despised, forsaken,
Thou from hence my all shall be.
Perish every fond ambition,
All I?ve sought or hoped or known.
Yet how rich is my condition!
God and heaven are still my own.

2. Let the world despise and leave me,
They have left my Savior, too.
Human hearts and looks deceive me;
Thou art not, like them, untrue.
O while Thou dost smile upon me,
God of wisdom, love, and might,
Foes may hate and friends disown me,
Show Thy face and all is bright.

3. Man may trouble and distress me,
?Twill but drive me to Thy breast.
Life with trials hard may press me;
Heaven will bring me sweeter rest.
Oh, ?tis not in grief to harm me
While Thy love is left to me;
Oh, ?twere not in joy to charm me,
Were that joy unmixed with Thee.

4. Go, then, earthly fame and treasure,
Come disaster, scorn and pain
In Thy service, pain is pleasure,
With Thy favor, loss is gain
I have called Thee Abba Father,
I have stayed my heart on Thee
Storms may howl, and clouds may gather;
All must work for good to me.

5. Soul, then know thy full salvation
Rise o?er sin and fear and care
Joy to find in every station,
Something still to do or bear.
Think what Spirit dwells within thee,
Think what Father?s smiles are thine,
Think that Jesus died to win thee,
Child of heaven, canst thou repine.

6. Haste thee on from grace to glory,
Armed by faith, and winged by prayer.
Heaven?s eternal days before thee,
God?s own hand shall guide us there.
Soon shall close thy earthly mission,
Soon shall pass thy pilgrim days,
Hope shall change to glad fruition,
Faith to sight, and prayer to praise.

© 2001 Bill Moore Music.

When words are shallow

when words are shallow

when the cruelty of death is felt
but words are shallow

when people leave
but the pain lingers

when the time passes and life goes on
but you wish the world would stand still

when others can begin to smile
but you still hurt

when words are shallow
but a person’s impact so deep

you turn to God
he is still here

you know that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever
but you ask why

he understands yesterday’s pain
he understands today’s sorrow
he is there for tomorrow’s lingering loss

when words are shallow
he cares

when words are shallow
his grace is sufficient

when words are shallow
his love will sustain.

 

Written in the fall of 1995 on the eve of the funeral for the son of a good friend. I wrote down the words–“How can I minister, how can I help? My words and my presence seem so shallow.”

It’s not my words, it’s His presence, I am to be His tangible evidence.

Stephen C. Kilgore

(I’ve read this at funerals before, but I thought it was time to share it.)

Story behind, “Carol of the Bells”

A summary of the story (see the video for a retelling of the story)

One of America’s best known poets, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), contributed to the wealth of carols sung each Christmas season, when he composed the words to “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” on December 25th 1864. As with any composition that touches the heart of the hearer, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” flowed from the experience of Longfellow– involving the tragic death of his wife Fanny and the crippling injury of his son Charles from war wounds. The first Christmas after Fanny’s death, Longfellow wrote, “How inexpressibly sad are all holidays.” A year after the incident, he wrote, “I can make no record of these days. Better leave them wrapped in silence. Perhaps someday God will give me peace.” Longfellow’s journal entry for December 25th 1862 reads: “‘A merry Christmas’ say the children, but that is no more for me.” Almost a year later, Longfellow received word that his oldest son Charles, a lieutenant in the Army of the Potomac, had been severely wounded with a bullet passing under his shoulder blades and taking off one of the spinal processes. The Christmas of 1863 was silent in Longfellow’s journal. Finally, on Christmas Day of 1864, he wrote the words of the poem, “Christmas Bells.” Longfellow’s Christmas bells loudly proclaimed, “God is not dead.” (http://www.whatsaiththescripture.com/Fellowship/Edit_I.Heard.the.Bells.html)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=sXfzp296zhA[/youtube]

Christmas Bells

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said:
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”