Some days are just harder than others. I realize each is a gift from God, but I don’t always like the things that happen. You understand. Life just gets hard sometimes.

The last few days have been tough. Two good friends have gone home to be with the Lord. One was a director of missions who has been a friend for many years. He was a fine leader in his association, but for me that wasn’t the important thing. He was a friend. My other friend was a pastor just 47 years old. He leaves behind three teenage daughters. Both men married over their heads, like all of us in the ministry. Their spouses must deal with the loneliness. We friends will miss them.

I am not unaware of the Bible’s precious and sweet promise from God. When we lose Christians to death, they aren’t lost. We know exactly where they are. Paul was very clear that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. He also reminded us that we do not need to grieve like those who have no hope. Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus Christ and His righteousness. We are saved by His grace without regard to our goodness. Christians are safe in the arms of God. Awesome!

As years pass, Heaven becomes sweeter to me. I seem to have more family and friends in Heaven than down here. I find myself thinking about Heaven more than ever-not in a morbid sort of way, but with joy. I know that Heaven is a wonderful and glory-filled place. Jesus, the Master Carpenter, promised He is making a place for us. His Father’s house has lots and lots of room.

Then why am I sad? I could write a theological rebuttal or a psychological analysis, but I don’t think that would be very helpful. I will just give you a simple human answer. I am sad because I loved, respected and appreciated these friends. So I grieve. Their families grieve. We would not call them back if we had a chance. But we do feel the loss for now.

I am always comforted by the scene of Jesus outside the tomb of Lazarus. He wept. Many reasons and theological explanations could be given. I am blessed that His human nature was exposed for all of us who follow. His tears gave freedom for our tears. We do not need to hide our God-given humanness in the face of loss. Tears do not expose weakness, but humanness. Our tears are God’s gift and serve to wash away the darkness of grief.

Life is filled with grief experiences. Death is not the only one. But in the same way that God shines the light of His glory through the veil of death, He also shines His light of glory through the multitude of life’s harsh experiences. It truly is often darkest before the dawn. But when we serve the living Savior there always is a dawn. No matter how harsh, dark or painful life becomes, we do not need to give up, cave in or fall into a bottomless pit of despair. The Savior is waiting to bring healing and to lift us up out of our darkness. When we fall, we fall into His strong arms of love.

What a Savior! What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!