Grief is hard. It is. But that doesn’t have to be the end of the story. It takes time to go through and process our sadness. But Jesus wants to be with us through our pain, and because of His love and sacrifice, we can still find hope through it all. The Easter season always reminds me of grief and hope, and my own experience understanding the two.
The hardest thing I ever went through was three and a half years ago. On September 7th, 2017 my oldest brother, Drew, was shot and killed outside his home at the age of 26. Of course, my family was shocked and overwhelmed. I was 19, and two hours away at college when I found out. My sister was actually visiting that weekend, and looking back, it was a miracle that we could be together in that fresh beginning. We were picked up and when we got home with the rest of the family, reality set in.
Drew was the best big brother. What were we going to do without him and his fun-loving self? Having five siblings, all six of us spent a lot of time together. But that summer in 2017, Drew and I spent a lot of one-on-one time hanging out. I would go over to his house, and he would take me to soccer games and other events.
It could have been easy to get angry at God.
I could have gotten mad at the fact that we were just beginning to hang out one-on-one. But before I got that far, God revealed that it is more than okay to be heartbroken. He is with us in that grieving process. I think back to how Jesus reacted when Lazarus died. John 11:35 states, “Jesus wept.” He took that time to grieve over his friend, even though He knew that He would raise him from the dead in just a while. I became thankful that God gave me the past 19 years with Drew as a brother including that last summer, because He knew that He was about to call him home. I even got a proper goodbye as the last time I saw him I was leaving for college. He texted me that he was on his way to come hang out and give me a hug. God knows even when we don’t understand.
In grieving, God is our comfort
Psalm 147:3 says, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” My brother had even posted that verse a few months before his death. What truly helped with my family’s grieving were friends coming over and just sitting with us in our sadness. God wants to be there in our sadness as well. God wants us to turn to Him in our pain because He is our Comforter. Psalm 23:4 says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” The hope came to me when I understood that we were only grieving because we are still on Earth. Drew is alive more now in Heaven than he ever was before, because of Jesus. We have Heaven to look forward to, and there is joy in that.
During Easter, we take the time to reflect what Jesus did for us.
He took the sins of the world and died on the cross as a perfect sacrifice. He arose from the dead three days later, defeating death, and giving us hope to live with God in Heaven forever. Jesus told his disciples in John 16:22, “So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take your joy.” He was talking about His own death and because of His Resurrection, it is true for us in any grief we go through. Because my brother believed this and lived for Christ, we can have joy that we will see him again.
It was also humbling and inspiring to look back at Drew’s life and how he made the most of his years. He didn’t know he would die so young, but he still made sure he lived life to the fullest. He was an extrovert and made friends with everyone he met. At his Celebration of Life Service, we heard countless stories of how Drew would spend hours talking about life with them. He made people feel important and seen.
It made me realize that I don’t want to waste my life. Jesus calls us to love others and shine his light. I want others to know the hope and joy I have because of Jesus. It pains me that some don’t have hope in their grief, as that has gotten me through missing Drew. Having a brother gone, definitely makes Heaven feel closer and more exciting to see Jesus one day. We are not guaranteed tomorrow, so I want to live every day revealing to others the joy and hope He gives, even through the grief.