When death takes those we love, it seems like joy is lost forever. But time patiently teaches our grieving hearts that it’s okay to allow joy to reenter our lives.While there are moments when sadness will still overwhelm happiness, it’s possible for joy and sorrow of the deepest kind to exist side by side within our heart.
And so can hope!
A few years after losing his 5-year-old son, one grieving father observed, “The pain of losing someone we love is real, at times almost unbearable. But the hope is just as real, and ultimately more real” (Gregory Floyd, Grief Unveiled). The hope this grieving parent spoke of is the hope of God’s new day. It is the hope of a reunion and the happiest of endings, which is really a new beginning.
Even though the tears of loss stay with us today and into our earthly future, the Bible assures us that we are part of a larger story where it’s not always going to be that way. The New Testament boldly declares that when Jesus returns, all who have died and belong to Him will be raised to life again (1 cor. 15:20-23). Jesus’ return will also trigger a time of new beginnings when the New Jerusalem will come down from heaven and join with the earth—creating a new heaven and a new earth (rev. 21:1-2). Then God is going to “wipe every tear” from the eyes of His people, and “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (21:4).
Centuries before Jesus walked the earth, the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel received a vision of God’s new day. The prophet’s vision included an elaborate tour of the temple area in the New Jerusalem, given to him by a man “whose appearance was like bronze.” Recalling his vision, Ezekiel wrote:
The man brought me back to the entrance of the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east . . . . He asked me, “Son of man, do you see this?” Then he led me back to the bank of the river. When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. He said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Dead Sea. When it empties into the sea, the salty water there becomes fresh. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live. Fishermen will stand along the shore; from En Gedi to En Eglaim there will be places for spreading nets. The fish will be of many kinds—like the fish of the Mediterranean Sea” (ezek. 47:1, 6-10).
Reflecting on Ezekiel’s vision of new beginnings when even the deadest of waters will come back to life, Luke Veldt ends his book Written in Tears with this hopeful invitation:
“You can look for me fishing there, with Allison. There will be lots of friends and family with us, and we will all be in the presence of our Father, our guide. You are welcome to join us. There will be plenty of room, plenty of fish, and plenty of time. It would give us great joy to see you there.”