The Grief of Pilgrims

Christ followers are told clearly that we are strangers and aliens in this land, that we should fix our hope not on the things of this world but lay up treasure in heaven, and that our lives are but a vapor. (Heb. 11:13, Col. 1:1-3, Mat. 6:19, Jam. 4:14).

Paul tells us “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of of God. Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:1-3).

Followers of Christ should not fear to die, because death has already struck it best blow, it has played its best hand, it has done its greatest damage. “O death, where is thy sting?” (1 Cor. 15:55). It has done all this yet failed to conquer anyone who lives in Christ.

Yet when a young wife and child die in a car crash, leaving a young husband behind, the reality of a Fall in which physical death reigns from Adam, of the fragility and shortness of life, of a wrecked creation longing for the healing hand of its Creator, all rush in and we can do little but cry, with the prophet, “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?” (Hab. 1:2).

Yet God does hear. And he speaks.

He speaks words of comfort, reminders that we are pilgrims, that this is not our home but that our home is heaven. He shouts to us in our pain (C.S. Lewis) that we have died and our life is hidden in Christ, who is our life.

He speaks the truth that Christ, who holds our life, is “a man of sorrows, and acquanted with grief” (Isa. 53:3), which permits us, amidst incalculable pain, to know — if not always say in return — “blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:23).

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