Grief and Hope

October 9, 1983.

He would be 35 today. It should be a momentous birthday. One where he went on a crazy trip with friends and did slightly insane shenanigans that only he could pull off. Instead, it is the second “big” birthday he has missed. My brother, Stephen New, was killed in the line of duty while serving our country overseas as a Special Forces Combat Medic. Every so often I google my brother and look at his obituary. It sounds morbid probably but I’m here for the authenticity y’all. The thing that strikes me and grieves me each time is how time has stood still. My husband and I no longer live in Tennessee so that part of the obituary is out of date. So is the fact that only Stephen’s nephew is mentioned; 5 years ago our daughter was just a hope for another child someday.

October 9, 2017.

When we moved into our neighborhood a year and a half ago, we prayed for good neighbors. We prayed for opportunities to meet our neighbors. We asked God to give us opportunities to encourage and minister to our neighbors. Last year, roughly 6 months after moving in our sweet neighbor Edna passed away after a long, strong fight against cancer. Tonight we will go to a celebration of her life at our neighbor’s house thrown by her husband and daughter. There will be amazing food (hello Filipino cuisine!!!!) and laughter while remembering the impact she made on many.

1 Thessalonians 4:13 - We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.

Today, I miss my brother. We were not incredibly close, but that only makes my grief stronger on days like today. I wonder if we would have gotten closer as we became adults. I know Stephen would have been a fantastic uncle. Today, I grieve with hope for him. I grieve with my sweet neighbors over the loss of their wife and mom. I grieve with their family and friends who miss her fiercely.

Hope is an expectation of desire for something to happen. Our hope in times of grief, comes from the desire to see our loved ones again in heaven. However, without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, a hope for heaven is just a false hope and empty platitude. I know this is a serious post today. But I would be remiss if I shared about my grief and never offered the Source of Hope to you friends. We were born sinners. If you have babies & toddlers, you know this all too well. We were born with a propensity to do our own thing and break God’s heart with our selfishness. However, God wants a whole, healthy relationship with us, so he sent his son, Jesus Christ to take on all past, present, and future sins, die on a cross, be buried and rise again 3 days later to conquer death and sin. Jesus’ death and resurrection provided full access to a relationship with God through the forgiveness of sin. This relationship with Christ is open to anyone willing to acknowledge their sin and ask for forgiveness. Only in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ can we find true hope my friends.

I don’t know what October 9 holds for you. Maybe life is fantastic and theres no sadness in sight. Maybe you are grieving for your own losses of a person or dream. I pray for you, friend, that you have the perfect hope that can only come from Christ today. You are loved. I’d love to know how to pray for you; comment below.