1819) Losing Faith (part three of three)

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     (…continued)  The second thing that little snippet of a story can do for us is give us an appreciation for the Lord in whom we trust and in his promises for us.  Frank McCourt said of his daughter in grief at her dead grandmother’s side, he said, “She has no religion for this, no vocabulary, and no prayer… and that’s another sadness.”

     But as Christians, we have all of that.  We have much to draw on when we grieve the loss of a loved one who died in Christ.  To begin with, we have the story of Jesus who had been killed, but on the third day came out of the tomb, risen, alive, and victorious over death.  Who else has done that?  Where Frank McCourt could only speak in terms of a big IF, the New Testament is filled with eyewitness accounts of those who saw Jesus dead and then alive again.  There was no lack of conviction in their words.  Almost all of them would lose their lives, willingly, proclaiming to all the world what they saw and what it means that Jesus is alive.  

     So what do we have to say?  We have the story of Christ’s Easter resurrection.  Along with that, we have all those many verses that promise promise eternal life.  I will list just a few.

     There is the old favorite 23rd Psalm, which says of that time, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me…” and then at the end, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

     In John 14:1-3 Jesus says, “Let not our hearts be troubled, believe in God, believe also in me.  For in my father’s house there are many rooms, and I go there to prepare a place for you.  And someday, I will come again and I will take you to be with me, so that where I am, you may be also.”

     And there are Jesus words in John chapter 11 at the tomb of Lazarus, “I am the resurrection and the life; whosoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live again.”

     Of that eternal Revelation 21 says; “There will be no sorrow or pain or tears or even death anymore, for all the old things will have passed away, and God himself will be with us.”

     So now, as Paul says in Romans chapter 14, “Whether we live or die we belong to the Lord, for to this end Christ died and rose from the dead, that he might be Lord of the living and the dead.”

     The verses could go on and on.  This is the vocabulary of faith that Maggie McCourt did not have when grieving the loss of her grandmother, but this is the hope and promise that is available to her and to anyone who will hear of it and believe it.  As the disciples said to Jesus, “Lord, where else shall we go? Only you have the words of eternal life.”

     In him we can place our trust, both now and forever.

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Philippians 1:21  —  For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Acts 21:12b-14  —   We and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem.  Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart?  I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”  When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.”

II Peter 10-16  —  Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election.  For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have.  I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.  And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.  For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

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O Lord,
support us all the day long of this troublous life,
until the shadows lengthen, and the evening comes,
and the busy world is hushed,
and the fever of life is over, and our work is done.
Then, Lord, in thy mercy,
grant us a safe lodging, a holy rest,
and peace at the last.  Amen.

–John Henry Newman  (1801-1890)