The Best Burial Day

“After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away His body. Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.”
John 19:38-42

To the mom who of a baby whose body you lovingly held, you fed, rocked, and kissed—and then lowered into the ground. To the mom of a baby whose body quickly slipped away, and with no pictures to save. To the mom of a baby whose body you cradled in your hands—so petite and you couldn’t keep. To the mom of a baby whose limp frame you cradled near—so few minutes of your life spent here.

Come to a burial—to the best one.

“Come and see an extraordinary funeral; never was the like! Come and see a burial that conquered the grave, and buried it, a burial that beautified the grave and softened … Let us turn aside now, and see this great sight.”
Matthew Henry

Come to the Savior’s side; crucified, pierced—not alive. Buried, carried to a tomb—lowered to the earth. See how His life was given away as a curse? See how His body went from hung to hurriedly prepared? Yet, see the way Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea cared? Now see that wrath was really paid—He was buried so that you might be raised. Death for sin, blood of sacrifice; He bled to take sin away.

Now see that death has a new-garden tomb—a new door, gate, and way. Find this life; in being buried with Him, you live. What kind of tomb is this? Come, the old garden was yesterday—and in Him, the old Adam’s away.

Find that in death you really live—dead to your sins, dead through Him. See the resurrection ahead? This death was different—though really dead, He would come to life. For the sinless One, the grave could not hold—unlimited purity and power in His sacrifice.

When you imagine His body in the grave, picture your children there too. Without despair, envision them as if they’re placed right by His side—placed in Him (and watch, they’re briskly made alive). What kind of tomb is His?

Death is steep, sharp, and sour. Yet, it’s softened there, don’t look away. This burial was the best of them all. See that death has promise now—to be with the Lord, found in His power. There is no sin or sorrow to exceed this tomb—no maximum limit for any wrongs, tears, or pain. See that it is a promise He has made—allwho come through His grave will be raised (Rom. 6:10-11); in dying to sins and selves, we’re new.

There is no tomb like the one of Christ. Nicodemus came from hiding and the rich man, Joseph, (Isa. 53:9; Matt. 27:57-60) from the crucifiers (he didn’t agree—Lk. 23:51). See how this tomb also draws us. Out from the patterns of life we’ve led—out to follow.

To the mom of a baby who slipped away, put your fingers at His sliced side, by His heart, and see His hands—scarred with death. There is no one who more understands than the One whose death we cannot fully comprehend. There is no death like His, for in His wounds—our eternity. He was the One despised, rejected, and without beauty—in these are no defeat. Lowered into the ground, yes—but now, what’s in the ground is not lost. Limp on a cross—but wait for His might. Though not recognized how He should have been on earth, resurrection ahead.

He was anointed to death—with a woman’s wealth, perfume was smoothed over Him with her hair (John 12:3). Mother, you were appointed to this grief—to display His power, His eternity. Draw just as near. Carry yourself to His burial. Sit to remember—don’t look away. This is where life’s beginnings and ends come together. Determine what you can set aside—ask what you need no more. What is keeping your heart from His power? Lay it in the tomb to die. With the new Adam, there is room for you. (Rise in Him!)

See the day death really died—death’s waiting to be cast away, it’s trembling. See the day wrath was really paid—Him crucified, leave your sins because He makes you free. In His living power, trust. Because He died, we who go through His tomb—alive. (Children and heavenly church waiting on the other side!)

Jesus—what tomb ushers life but Yours? Thank You for the best burial day.

Read More
Relief When You Feel Betrayed by God

Jesus was betrayed by Judas, exposing Jesus to His enemies and ultimately leading him to death on a cross. Yet, this betrayal also revealed astoundingly peace-filled moments in the last hours of Jesus’ life. Here are some:

  1. Jesus had intimate knowledge of His betrayer—He knew Judas would betray Him (Matthew 26:21) and He knew the very moment when Judas would betray Him (Matthew 26:46)—and Jesus didn’t prevent it.

  2. Jesus’ disciple Peter used a sword to slice off an ear of a servant of the high priest who was among those intending to arrest Jesus—but Jesus healed the ear and told Peter to sheath his sword.

  3. Jesus testified to the Father’s willingness to receive an appeal of protection from Jesus—to send 12 legions of angels (Matthew 26:53)—but Jesus never asked the Father for them.

Jesus didn't pursue prevention of His arrest, protection from the crucifixion, or retribution against those who came to take Him to death—when He had opportunity for all three. Jesus, while facing what He knew would be an excruciating death to bear the punishment and wrath of God for the sins of all who believe for all time, was at perfect peace.

Yet, perhaps one of the most instructive details in the accounts of Jesus’ being betrayed is one easiest to miss. Jesus references the Scriptures—stating that everything happening to Him was in accordance with what was written. Jesus knew He was in the process of fulfilling prophecy as the long-awaited Messiah (Acts 3:18).

When predicting Judas’ act of betrayal, He said: 

“The Son of Man goes as it is written of Him…”
Matthew 26:24, emphasis added

Right after instructing Peter to sheath his sword, He said:

“Do you think I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once send Me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?”
Matthew 26:53-54, emphasis added

I could not help but think of Jesus’ words earlier in His ministry, spoken when He was being tempted by the devil. Jesus said:

“Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Matthew 4:4

Jesus didn’t ask for what He was truly due, as the Son of God. His plan was for the Father’s will to be done (John 14:31), and to have the joy set before Him—while despising the shame of the cross—of saving many for the glory of God (Hebrews 12:2, Ephesians 1:6). His plan was to see the Scriptures fulfilled—that was the peace-filled perspective He spoke of when being betrayed. Jesus perfectly exemplified living on the basis of the word of God.

Do You Feel Betrayed by God?

Sweet mom, are you tempted to feel betrayed by God due to your extreme suffering? Are you tempted to feel like He betrayed you to this enemy of death and pain? Think about this: when Jesus was betrayed by Judas, He knew He had not been betrayed by the Father. For Jesus knew the Father's purpose and plans in sending Him.

Like Jesus, when being betrayed to death by Judas, we can look to God's plan. Like Jesus, we can have poignant perspective and peace from the Scriptures, perspective that directs our hearts toward God.

The Gospel of John records in detail the words that Jesus spoke to His disciples prior to being betrayed. So we know exactly what was on Jesus' agenda to share with His disciples in His last hours before crucifixion. His words give us an outline for understanding our present suffering.

  •  Jesus speaks to the disciples as friends, telling them future plans for the world.

Jesus called the disciples close like the nearest of friends and have significant understanding about His plans for this world.

“No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his Master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.”
John 15:15

In 1 Corinthians 15:20-28, His ordered plans are further detailed for us:

“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at His coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”

  • He does not leave us alone, but gives us the Helper.

Presently, the risen Christ is at the right hand of the Father while He awaits returning, with praiseworthy patience (considering the manifold evil in this world, the hardships His people are enduring, and the abuse brought daily to His holy name!). He is waiting to return so that those who do not yet believe in Him have opportunity for repentance (2 Pet. 3:9). But He says that while we believers wait for His coming, we are not alone. The apostles' teachings recorded in the Scriptures that we have read (above) were guided by the Holy Spirit (John 16:13a). And we believers also receive the Helper, the Holy Spirit.

Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?
1 Corinthians 3:16

  • He says that tribulation will occur in a fallen world, but that He has overcome.

Prior to being betrayed, Jesus speaks about the tribulation that the disciples will have because of this fallen world. He speaks of the persecution they will experience because they no longer follow the ways of the world (John 15:18). Yet, He promises that He has overcome the system of the world, meaning He will, with certainty, complete His plans.

“In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

  • He indicates purposes in His people remaining on earth. 

Jesus next implies that instead of taking believers to heaven the moment we place our faith in Him, we stay with purpose in this world to testify to Him for the remainder of our God-appointed earthly lives. Yet, while we live here, we have the assurance that we can no longer belong to the evil one. And we have the Scriptures as our tremendously peace-giving defense system in this world. Jesus prays to the Father about purpose and protection:

“I do not ask that You take them out of the world, but that You keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.”
John 17:15-18

Patience and the Last Enemy

Jesus disclosed to us the state of this world. He spoke that this world would not be right until He returns. He said that He would not immediately take those who believe out of the world; He has purpose left for His people here. Not the author of sin or the reason death is here, He is the reason we can expect with joy that the enemy of death will be defeated.

Jesus has overcome the system of this world, and He has a plan.

He arose, and ascended to the right hand of God. He will return for His people, and finally, He will put everything, every enemy, in right order underneath His reign—the last enemy being death, which will be destroyed.

None of this dismisses the reality of pain. Scripture clearly calls death an enemy, and being affected by this enemy inflicts pain beyond what we can express. Thankfully, Jesus does not lead His people astray or desert us. We have the Word of truth to keep us solid, the Helper who is near, and His assurance that—no matter what His people experience—we will never belong to the evil one.

Jesus said that He would be patient to return so that the full number might believe in Him (Rom. 11:25). He is working His salvation in this world, raising people out of their sin to follow Him. And only God knows the moment this work that keeps Him presently in heaven will be done. Faith in the gospel implies having faith in Jesus’ timing.

All that He has told me in His Word gives me unfaltering peace. King Jesus—the same Jesus with indescribable peace facing His betrayal and with compassionate words of provision and instruction before being taken away to death—is on the throne. And I can trust in His plansin the Scriptures, that the Savior will return. I find joy today in enduring for the joy that is ahead.

Read More
From the Beginning, Jesus' Death Was No Surprise

Death laying over those we love is not a welcomed sight. I despised the way it looked on my daughter, the motionless, lifeless character it took within my body, and the limpness it caused in my arms that held her empty frame after being born sleeping.

With those memories, I also consider that before God began the act of creating the cosmos, the earth, and mankind, He knew that in doing so He would also be coming to die.

God's Decree For Himself to Die

That Jesus would come to this earth as a sacrifice was decreed by God before the foundations of the earth. Jesus opted to meet our need and planned to become incarnate to sacrifice His life.

“He was foreknown before the foundation of the world.”
1 Peter 1:20

"...this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men."
Acts 2:23

The incarnation of Jesus to seek and save the lost was voluntary; from the beginning, the cross was no surprise to God.

In Scripture, we can see that this decree of God before creation was for His glory and to display His character. Colossians 1:16 tells us that all things were created “for Him.” Matthew Henry comments: “All things being created by Him, were created for Him; being made by His power, they were made according to His pleasure, and for His praise and glory.”

“Whatever He does or permits to be done, is done or permitted for the more perfect revelation of His nature and perfections.”
Charles Hodge

All of creation is for Him—His ultimate purpose in creating and becoming incarnate is for Him (Eph. 1:6). He is God—to be praised and enjoyed by all of His creation. You and I are for Him. Our babies are for Him. Our lives and days are for Him. 

Were everything right with the world, we would breathe every moment for Him. And that would be good.

Humbled for Us

Yet I, sorrowfully, cannot say that I have lived every moment of my life for the glory and exaltation of God; Scripture says that no person can (Rom. 3:11-12; 1 John 1:8).

As people, we might set ourselves up to be like God by believing we don’t need Him very much, to be on par with God by determining for ourselves what is the right path for our lives, or to be owed a bit of the glory ourselves alongside of God—or owed at least what we consider a decent or fine life.

A heart for children is a wonderful thing; and our souls lay bare when wonderful desires go unmet. We have been handed something, by any standards, indescribably painful—to outlive our own child, to perhaps never really have met him or her, to maybe watch him or her suffer, to see him or her under the cloak of death. Our grace is that God desired that death not have the last word over the human race. And He had a plan; He's always had a plan.

That’s why God, in creating this world, was Father who would send His Son to be born to die at the hand of men. He is a God who, because of the love with which He loved us (Eph. 2:4), decreed for Himself, as the divine Trinity, the death that brings us this sorrow, and worse. And He has glorified Himself by making His character known through His sacrificial Son (Eph. 1:5-6; Heb. 1:3).

There is a divine Baby who had death written all over Him before He was conceived, born, and lived through His first birthday. He humbled Himself (Phil. 2:8)—this One to whom all glory is due forever.

So when I look, in my memory, to my lifeless daughter, I also recall the God of all glory who gave up the splendor of heaven to come—not because He owed it to me, a seeker of self-glory. I have always owed Him all. How blessed are we, when thinking of our babies gone from earth so soon, to also think of the One hanging on the cross so that He could have authority to forgive sins and eternally pardon seekers of self-glory so that we could be with Him always.

He Endured the Most Difficult

His eternal decree meant that He did the most difficult on the cross (Matt. 26:36-46); He can be trusted with the lives of our children. He can be trusted to work out their days, or lack of any days at all out of the womb, for His glory. Free your life to His plans, purposes, and power.

If your theology, your view of God, starts with the good that you expected from Him only to receive this heartache—you haven’t yet seen the fullness of who He is, or His goodness available to you. There is more—look deeper. Marvelously widen your view to the start of creation—His gracious creation of all things for His glory and His astounding creation of all things while knowing that He would die for mankind.

Living for the glory of the God whose character is on display in Jesus' sacrificial incarnation is purpose; and knowing the Son who died for your sins is how you can come to fulfill your life’s purpose of ascribing glory to Him now and forever.

His purposes never fail; His humility is astounding; His love in sending His Son to earth to die is confounding and true; His worth is indescribableand we derive tremendous purpose as people in Him.

Read More
Blessed Are Those Who Mourn

Grieving the loss of a child has a way of creating an urgent desire for solid, biblical answers for any theological questions that arise in the heart—what has God truly said in His Word about why this kind of pain exists in the world?

When this world feels devoid due to child loss, one’s attention can be well set upon knowing how to hope for another world. Hope is needed because all is not right. This cannot be it for us as people. The Christian hope, such a blessed hope, tells us that there is more to know than what only experiences can tell us. Understanding what hope God gives can come through observing what kind of mourning Jesus speaks of: 

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
(Matthew 5:4)

Not all causes of mourning are the same. One might mourn for the good that has not been given to her by God, but has perhaps been given to another. It is self-defeating because our help is not found in longingly looking at the lives of others with hearts that will only be happy with what others possess; this is not a blessed kind of mourning. Another cause of mourning is for the loss of a person; this is the earthly loss of a good gift (or gifts) given by God. I trust Jesus’ own tears to validate mine in this (John 11:33-35). 

There is yet another kind of mourning in Scripture—spiritual mourning. This is to mourn over sins. Because Jesus Christ is the One who redeems me from my sins, biblical hope—first and foremost—is the hope of no longer being held by sin, by its presence, power, and punishment. This is the kind of mourning Jesus primarily speaks of in Matthew 5:4.¹ So it stands to follow that if I do not first understand sin, I cannot understand biblical hope.

The pieces of my heart shattered in grief—I have felt as though I hardly had one left. And in grief, my theology felt more disheveled than ever—with many different assumptions about God and His character surfacing. It has been likely challenging, to say the least, to sort through it all. And I am still sorting. That is why, today, I want to give those who are grieving one bottom line. I do not think it is all of the truth that you will need in your grief. But it is needed, and it is a brief theology of sin’s beginnings in this world—and sin’s relationship to death and hope. 

Spiritual death came in the garden of Eden when the decision was made to sin. The human race fell from the glory of the presence of God, and death was introduced. 

Mankind is now still graciously given opportunity to know God and live in the glory of His presence one day—but a Savior has been needed because the first spiritual death precipitates a death of conscious eternity in the lake of fire, as Jesus teaches through His Word (Matthew 25:46; 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9; Revelation 20:13-15). No mere human can avoid it of his or her own merit. All people need to be rescued from sin this day, and from this future of punishment.

Maybe you have never mourned for your sins or seen your need for a Savior. Perhaps you have experienced this plunging grief, mourning the loss of your dear baby, and that made you interested in the things of God and the Bible for the first time, or the first time in a long time. And maybe that is when you found this post. You, dear mom, need to know that the Bible teaches that true, biblical hope can only be known by those who have spiritually mourned (though this is perhaps the first time you have heard it called that). You also need to know that you can truly have hope. Our separation from God in present sin and future punishment is something that He has told us how to avoid.

The grief that we experience when a child goes ahead is a loud cry, impaling the heart with the truth that something is not right—and at the root, what isn’t right in this world is sin, the original initiator of death. 

Let me pause for a moment here. I understand it might be difficult to hear that statement if you are grieving the loss of a child, because you might initially think I mean that I suspect a specific sin in your life led to the death of your child. After the experience of loss, the mind so deeply wants to have understanding about the cause of death that it filters what it hears through those terms—yet often times, this kind of understanding about the workings of this world is one that mere man cannot have (Job 38). But I am writing at this point about a theological understanding of sin—the bigger picture that applies to all people.²

Death is not a part of God’s good plan for eternity, He mourns with us, and He is not glad we experience it; at the same time, what God indicated in the garden was true (Read Genesis 1-3). It is impossible for us to live, to be full, to be satisfied, to be whole, to be home, to have joy, to love, etc., without God. He knew it. It could be no other way for His creatures; He is God and we are, rightly, His—and only right ourselves when we are living in obedience to Him. Most importantly, there is no way for God to be glorified as He deserves in this world without Him being truly God to all of His people and creation. 

In the garden, He gave us good commandments. He told us that we would assuredly not fare well without Him—that we would surely die, that because He is God it could be no other way. He told us that, as He is the only God, He merits our submission and obedience. Asserting oneself as “god” ultimately ends in impossibility because there is only One. But mankind desired independent goodness and power. While self-sustaining power and self-created goodness are only myths, they are influential myths—and Adam and Eve believed them. 

And so many in our day believe them too; how prevalent is the thinking that we can each do our own “good” as we please, and pursue our own path to happiness—a power-grab—and end up in heaven! But in reality, all people are accountable to a holy God who knew there could be no good for created beings without their Creator—and who is righteous and holy such that to disregard Him in following one’s own path is considered sin that cannot stand before the God. So mankind died spiritually, and physical death was introduced into the human experience. 

By God’s mercy, grace, and patience, mankind did not go to the lake of fire immediately. By His great mercy, He allowed mankind to live in a fallen—yet redeemable—world and have opportunity to turn from sinful ways to a Redeemer. Living on this fallen earth while still having an opportunity for repentance was very gracious of God. For, having opportunity to turn to God on this earth means this does not have to be our state, our experience, our “it” forever! There is an escape from this fallen place, and even more, from the lake of fire, which is far worse. 

Now dear moms, let me tell you about the good news in which I believe: 

“Now, I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you - unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, the He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.”
(1 Corinthians 15:1-5)

There is a Substitute, One who died to save sinners! When I mourn because I see my sin for what it is before God, and turn from it to trust in Christ as my Savior and Master for forgiveness—trusting His life, death, and resurrection and appearances that tell me that He, the Substitute, is alive—I become dead to my sin and raised to life, back into good submission to Christ my Lord. And I gain eternal salvation, the promise of God’s future glorious presence, and a present hope in my grief. You can turn from sin and gain Christ too.

Jesus’ words are the comfort for the spiritually mourning soul—for they are from Someone who has the complete authority to say—“your sins are forgiven!” (Matthew 9:2; Luke 7:48; Mark 2:5).

In the end, no other “hope” will matter but this kind. So, please do not let anyone tell you that you can have the hope of God if you have not put your faith in the Substitute—if you have not first spiritually mourned before the blessed face of a dear Savior who loves you enough to sacrifice Himself to death for the punishment of your sins, enabling spiritual death and eternal punishment to be replaced with eternal life. Your hope, whether you are heavily grieving a recent loss or whether you are years down the road, is found through the resurrected Lord who holds life in His good hands. 

Knowing these truths, I am able to believe, even in my cutting and overwhelming grief, tears, and pain, that I am truly blessed and comforted by God. For He has saved me from my worst future freely and completely through Jesus Christ. My sins have been forgiven—of no merit or work of my own—granting me hope eternal, restoration to Him forever: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).

Better news the world has never known.

Read More
Lianna Davis
Christmas Day Encouragement: Acknowledgment

"I miss your baby." Are you going to hear those words today? Will someone you are with acknowledge your baby? Is anyone going to speak any thoughts to you of him or her?

Is anyone going to say the name of your son or daughter? “I miss him so much,” or “I really miss her,” or “I wish we were together with your baby too,” or “Your son is a part of this family even though he cannot be in the family pictures, see the family traditions, and eat the family meals,” or “I know that your baby is in the best place of all in heaven—but, oh, it is our loss!” I hope that someone does.

I hope that someone voices to you their remembrance of your child. Yet, I understand we cannot always assume so.

Some are lost as to what to say and they don’t want to offend. Some feel as though they will cause you pain at the mention. Some see your child’s name as too precious to speak. Perhaps there is another reason. What I understand is that death gives easy answers to no one. But your child is not forgotten by God.

I hope someone speaks to you that they remember your baby today.  

And sisters, we can let Christ’s coming speak, even if no friend or relative knows to do so. His birth brought the “yes and amen” to us; every good promise is fulfilled.

Does God remember? Yes and amen. Christ has done more than remember; He planned before the world began that He would become fully human, taking on our same flesh (Acts 2:23; John 1:14; Matt. 4:2). And He remembers us this day, believers, interceding for us (Heb. 7:25).

Does God approach? Yes and amen. Christ has dome more than approach; He has come so near as to be in a human womb; He has cried human tears like ours in grief (Matt. 1:18; John 11:35).

Does God comfort and give joy? Yes and amen. The Christ who has become fully human is also fully God; He comforts with His power over sin in this fallen, death-ridden world we know sorrowfully well—He gives the ultimate comfort and joy because He was born to die so that we could be reconciled to God (Matt. 20:28; 1 Cor. 15:57). And because there is one mediator between God and man, we can entrust our babies to His sacrifice too (1 Tim. 2:5)—our babies who, though born of the first Adam (Ps. 51:5), had no occasion to reject His light (Rom. 1:20).

Does God speak to us? Yes and amen. Christ’s redemption is of love and He speaks to our hearts the forgiveness of sin and freedom to be welcomed in the eternal story of His glory and eternal kingship, for all who repent and believe (Acts. 3:19-21; Rev. 19:16).

A Baby in a manger. The Savior. Think of this—those He came to serve did not esteem Him as Savior; they did not consider Him precious, did not speak of Him as He deserved (Isa. 53:3). Perhaps you and your baby will not be recognized as your heart desires today. Know and be comforted that the Savior of the world was not given His due. Imperfect recognition, for all kinds of reasons, sadly hovers here.

But we can take our hurts to God; man's recognition does not equal truth, and does not equate to value. Christ is the precious, esteemed, deserving, joy-giving Savior that He was not recognized to be. And, as God, what He recognizes as true is true and valuable. His birth, His death, and His life have graciously spoken worth into our lives and our babies’ lives. And He sacrificially welcomes us to share in His recognition—a future one—which we remember today was birthed and comes forth into all eternity from Christmas and, later, the cross and resurrection. We suffer today. But when He comes for the second time, we who have counted Him all-worthy now will share in His fame then: "[We believers] are recipients of all spiritual blessings (Eph. 1:3) now, and in the future [we] will share with the Lord Jesus in all the riches of God’s kingdom (John 17:24; 1 Cor. 3:21–23)."[1]


“Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ”

Romans 8:17


Yes and amen. Praise Him for His great grace this Christmas day.

Read More
Christmas Eve Encouragement: Rest from the Work of Grief

The baby you greatly miss is not here. I know, I feel it too for mine. She was not here when we were hanging ornaments, and not here when wrapping last-minute presents in glowing Christmas light. They are not here with joy on their faces to receive gifts in celebration of the only Savior of this world. They are not here. And there is a felt void at every step through this time of year. We cannot fix it or change it. It is.


"Please don't try to fix it."


We resist when the words of others appear to be applying remedy for what they cannot fix—especially on big days like this, when feeling pain is part of it, but they cannot fully relate (praise God!). They cannot bring our babies to us.


Yet, I don’t know if you’re like me in this, even while knowing that this loss is beyond my ability to fix, I might still attempt to fix myself—and I am not sure that I have always rested well. I might linger around the shining tree late on these nights with a chocolate-covered pretzel in my hand, and a few more nearby, to think about how bright of a spot in my life my first daughter holds. Pain comes. And I look down at the red and green sprinkles on my chocolate Christmas pretzel with tears sprinkling my skin; and I feel lonely for her—wishing I did not need to eat these every year without her, one of my two little stars.


I have attempted to solve my pain by figuring it out, by determining the next step I need to take, or by seeking to glean the truth that will allow me to shed some more of the burden of grief I hadn’t previously known I was carrying. But without rest, I have forgotten that God carries me through it all, even amidst the work of grief. And I believe the work of grief is good—the truth is to be sought, and tears are happy to be freed by every new understanding. Yet, grief is work—not to be isolated from rest that acknowledges God's ownership and leadership of me.


When, in restful reflection, I simply remember that I have Someone infinite with me. He envelopes all of me, you know? I simply say to Him, “Lord, this pain.” And I know that He is not only enveloping me (Jer. 23:24), but He is within me (1 Cor. 3:16). Unlike those sometimes-enjoyable TV movies that speak of Christmas miracles as something purely earthly, Christmas is about the miraculous Savior King from heaven, making peace for our sins through His blood (1 John 3:5; 1 Cor. 1:19-20). Now, God is within us warming our hearts with His promise that the first coming was not His last (Rev. 22:12).


In many ways, we are second-coming Christians—not looking for the star to appear over a Baby in a manger, but looking for the Son to come, most radiant, to sweep us into brightest light. Christmas glowed because of the incarnation of Christ; and Christmas glows brightly in our eyes that firmly expect our Savior King to come again.


As long as the Lord tarries, there is no fixing this day—no pain-free promise for these moments (Ecc. 1:15). But our true promise is that we are given much glorious good and joy of God, right now (1 Pet. 1:8), and that He who engulfs and indwells us on earth will also beautifully overtake us in every possible sense one future day (1 Cor. 15:54). This is joy. Joy to the world—for the joy of the next world invades this one so well in pain, doesn’t it? Do you feel that too?


Rest today. Rest your hearts and let joy thoroughly invade. Our hope rests on another, on His presence now, His perfect timing for our tears to be wiped away, and the promise of His glory through our lives and through this world. And His glory, even today, is great (John 1:14; Isa. 60:1).


My soul, let your heart rest today in what your hope truly rests on—your God whose bright glory still reigns over all.  

Read More