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Life is the place where we learn about love.  Grief is one of life’s purest yet hardest experiences that brings forth understanding about love, its power, and why grief can be so penetrating.  When loss occurs in our lives, it is associated with the loss of love of some kind or the loss of the potential expression of love.  When someone or something in our life dies, we grieve not only that which has been but we grieve for that which will not be.

In the Bible, Isaiah 53 tells us that Jesus was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.  In the Book of John (11:35) we know that Jesus wept over the death of his special friend, Lazarus.  Jesus was God and man as He walked this earth, and He knew then as He knows today what it means to suffer loss.  As you and I go through our seasons of loss and sorrows that can be devestating and occur without warning, we are assured that Jesus Himself will go through this with us.  Jesus Himself will suffer every pain we know and cry with us as we cry.  But Jesus will stay.  He will stay with those who believe in Him, no matter what.  His love is dependable and His love is pure.  His love will never end.

Jesus, You promised to be with us for the course of our lives.  Lord, love can be so very painful, for its various facets reveal much that is telling and instructive about You, about life, and about ourselves.  In all of the losses our lives know, knowing You will always be the strength and the healing that will bring us to new tomorrows of hope.  Jesus, You alone are the reason for hope and for continuance in life’s painful sorrows.  In Thee, we reside.  Amen.
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Hope is elusive when grief comes. Because hope indicates optimism, when loss enters our lives, it can seem as though there is nothing optimistic about the future. But hope in Jesus makes the difference between hope that is certain and the world’s hope. Jesus does indeed keep fervent and alive His complete hope.

Losses in life come in unexpected ways. However loss meet us, the Christian has the promise of Christ that He will be with us and He will help us navigate through those times in life that are so deeply painful. Jesus will usher us along and guide us by His Word and Spirit to pathways in His grace that we have yet to see but His hope is certain to eventually reveal.

Lord Christ, life hurts at times and losses do break our hearts. But You remain steadfast and strong, mighty to uphold those who grieve with Your love, Your tenderness, and Your perfect hope. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for Thy sustaining loving care. In Thee, Lord Christ, Amen.

A full moon when cloud-covered is a compelling view.  The moonlight that emanates from the moon filters through the clouds, and while the contours of the moon cannot be seen, one is certain of the light behind it.  In much the same way, when grief covers our lives, we can be sure that the light of Christ shines behind our grief.

When grief impacts our lives, a secondary loss of hope can also enter in to cloud possibilities and dim the future.  But Jesus–Jesus Himself–is the hope that stays, the hope that does not disappoint.  When one believes in Jesus as Saviour, a life is infused with the Holy Spirit to uphold a spirit. This does not mean that we will not feel loss and sorrow.  We will.  But what it assures is that Jesus will accompany us when life hurts, and Jesus will carry us through a season of sadness–by His light.  Eventually we shall see the light again with our own eyes because Jesus stays and He guides our way.

Lord Jesus, You see the pains we suffer in this life and You stay through the times of passing clouds and dull light.  You make possible–even in night seasons–that which is purposeful.   By Thy light and vision, we trust You to be with those who grieve.  Lord, the Maker of the moon and the moonlight, help us to keep our eyes on You to bring light and hope to our lives.  In Thee, Lord Jesus, Amen.
We cross paths with all kinds of people in life.  Spme are with us for a season.  Others for many seasons.  Sometimes there are persons we believe we will share lilfe with for many years, for all the years, but then life changes.  Death and unforeseen circumstances come and the framework of those relationships shifts and grief enters.  We grieve not only what was but grieve the loss of what shall never be. 
 
Jesus understands grief.  Isaiah 53 states that Jesus is a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.  Jesus knows fully and personally those things that sear our hearts and the reasons why.  Yet, He is never the One to cause grief but will carry the sorrows for us.  His love is so deep for people.  He takes every hurt, every wound, as though it were His own.  When He breathes on it, healing begins. 
 
Breathe on us, Lord Jesus, in our times of grief.  You know every tear and why it falls from the heart through the eyes.  Breathe on us, Lord Jesus, to make meaning out of grief; a meaning defined only by Your love.  In Thee, Lord Christ, Amen.

    LOVE AND THE CROSS   

 

And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with me in paradise.     Luke 23:43

As Jesus hung on the cross at Calvary, two thieves hung on their crosses to the right and left of Jesus.  One thief was filled with contempt; the other with compassion and faith.  The one with compassion knew he was wrong, and that Jesus was righteous.  This thief declared belief; a declaration that moved Jesus to state and the Bible to record that today this man will be with me in paradise

For those who make Jesus their Saviour,Paradiseis a destination after life in this world but paradise is also a positioning throughout life.  What the Lord does is place Himself in the heart of a person who receives Jesus first and then the gift of Salvation Jesus gives.  One must be touched by the love of Christ to know He is and be moved by Him in order to take from Him.  This is paradise.  To know the love of Jesus is to have it alive in a heart all days of one’s life that lead to the great day of joining Him inParadise.

Love is costly.  Very costly.  The price is self.  One must give up one’s perspective, ambition, opinions, preference, and will, to love.  To love purely.  The truest test is of the presence of love is less of self and forgiveness.  The cross stands for love because it is the place where the deepest love came to include all and to pardon the unlovely.  The unlovely that is present in all of us at different times.  The cross stands as the beacon of forgiveness for all who will receive Jesus and His forgiveness.  Then, only then, is forgiveness possible.  The price of loving someone—a family member, spouse, friend, pastor, colleague, child, and one’s self—is whether or not forgiveness is given freely and received graciously.  If it is not, the love of Jesus is not alive in a heart.  Self is.  The patience of Jesus is great to wait for self to ebb. 

Losses in life, disappointments, and abrupt sadness can cause hearts to become hard and love to cease from flowing.  It is human and universal for people to be hurt and to hurt others, knowingly and unknowingly. The sure sign Jesus in a heart is one’s desire to make all things right and unified, even if that means things not turning out as one expected.  The peace and unity is what is most important; it is the love of reconciliation that Jesus so honors.  But when someone holds a grudge and will not be kind or forgiving, Jesus still forgives.  When one has been intentionally hurtful, Jesus still forgives.  Although the Lord understands fully the heart that so cold that it will not forgive, each day that passes when one does not attempt to make peace with himself or others, is a day further from fellowship and love with Jesus.  Relationship with Jesus suffers the most.  Whatever breaks one’s heart, breaks the Lord’s heart far more deeply.

The two thieves on the cross where separated by the state of their hearts.  One thief was filled with self and wanted his own way, and got it.  That meant not getting Jesus and being the recipient of His love, nor the love of others.  The other thief wanted Jesus and, got Jesus.  In the process he forgave himself, opened his heart to God’s love, and became the inheritor of an eternal home with Jesus.  When we love Jesus and are filled with Him, we always get more than we ever thought possible.  With God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).

The act of love atCalvarycontinues to flow with power today; a today that invites everyone to receive Jesus and His love into the heart.  If you have done that, you can be encouraged and warmed as you meditate on the love and peace you and Jesus share together and that flows forth to others.  If you have not, the Jesus of Calvary stands at the door of your heart and knocks, wanting you to open the door and let Him in.  May your heart be made and kept through the love of Jesus.  His love is the most trusted love of all.  The love of Jesus is a foretaste of paradise, and a relationship that shall last and endure all the tests and seasons of life in this world.  May you share this incomparable love with Jesus—today.

Lord Jesus, life hurts at times.  But the warmth and strength of Your love and presence abound with assurance and peace.  Lord, You know the hearts of people.  You know when life hurts and that which dwells in a heart to make it difficult for people to reach out to love and be loved.  Love is hard for some to give, and hard for some to receive.  Jesus, Your love always has the potential to soften hearts and to bring people to new dawns of forgiveness, grace, and unity that make for paradise.  Lord, thank You each day for the power of Your love and the cross that continues to prove all that is indeed possible because of You.  In Thee, Lord Christ, Amen.