My heart raced. I didn’t know how to respond. My friend had asked me to see the movie “I Can Only Imagine.” I hated that song. Ten years ago they played it at the funeral of a good friend who had been brutally murdered. She was young, beautiful inside and out, a solid Christian, and a true friend.
One of my dearest memories of her was flancing at the beach. We’d managed to stuff 28 of our closest friends into one beach house, and someone had bought a box of Barbie cereal as a joke. Barbie was described as flancing – a combination of flight and dance. During that beach trip I got dreadful news that my brother was very sick. She cheered me up by flancing with me in the sand. In the midst of my turmoil, she brought joy.
Instead of joy, every time I heard that song I felt pain. I’d have a visceral reaction and always rush to change the dial. My friend suggested I watch the movie to redeem the song and work through my lingering angst. So I went. I sobbed when the song played, and relived her funeral and the hurt of letting go. Her mother had lost her husband earlier that year and now her only daughter. She’d recalled her daughter’s love for Jesus. She encouraged the over 600 funeral attendees to get right with God because they never knew when their time would come. My friend’s life honored God, even in her death.
I looked to the Bible for comfort and found Psalm 116:15 “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” (NKJV) God did not see her death as evil, but precious. He rejoiced to have her with Him in heaven, safe and whole. Had she remained on earth after that, I can’t imagine how broken she would have been. God was merciful to take her home to be with Him.
God also reminded me of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.” (NKJV) My sorrow was to be different than those who have no hope. I would see her again. In my mind’s eye during the song, God gave me a new vision. I saw her flancing before the Lord. Someday we’d flance before Him together. She just had a head start.
There is more than just this life, and we have hope beyond the grave. This world is not our home. We look forward to heaven when we won’t have to say goodbye. God never said bad things wouldn’t happen. He actually said in John 16:33 “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (NKJV) We have troubles, but Christ has conquered the grave. One day, He will make all things new and wipe away all of our tears.
Maybe you’ve lost someone you loved, well before their time. How have you handled the grief? You don’t have to carry the hurt anymore. Take it to Jesus, and ask Him to show you His perspective. If that person knew Jesus, you have hope to see them again. If they didn’t know Jesus, use the reminder to spur you to share Christ with a lost and dying world.
What has comforted you the most during times of sorrow?
Joanna Eccles has led Bible studies for over ten years and completed the year-long C. S. Lewis Fellows Program. She is passionate about discipleship and helping people know God better. Joanna enjoys coffee, traveling, and reading, and currently lives in Virginia.