Grief is a journey…often a seemingly endless one. Everyone’s grief is a unique journey, which some try to avoid, others try to control, while others lose control and give up on life altogether. We grieve because we have loved. Some say time will heal, but the truth is only God can heal our grieving hearts. To quote a friend (D. Ray Davis in his blog, “Facing Loss”): “Death is simply not pleasant. All we know is life, and we don’t want it to end. So, …we seek not to think about loss any more than we have to… it’s simply not pleasant.”

A couple of weeks ago, two dear friends departed this earth. One was Bob Dills. Bob was Ahoskie First Baptist choir director and youth pastor during my high school years. He impacted the roots of my adult ministries in music and counseling. The other, Nancy Outlaw. We neighborhood kids called Nancy our second mother. She was always available to give us a glass of water or mend a scratched knee. I now hold my memories of these two special people even more dearly as my heart aches for the families they leave behind. As Davis said, “Death is simply not pleasant.”

Truth be told, the death of a loved one brings us face to face with eternity. The apostle Paul describes death for Christians this way (1 Corinthians 15:54-55, NKJV):

So, when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." (Paul is quoting Hosea 13:14)

When we swallow food or drink, we have consumed it. When death is swallowed up in victory, it, too, is totally consumed. This is a uniquely Christian concept. Paul explains,

“But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.” (Galatians 3:22)

There’s the rub. The phrase, “Those who believe,” is not all-inclusive. Many believe that everyone will eventually end up in heaven. However, according to God’s Word, this is simply not true!

Paul writes,

“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins.” (Romans 3:23-24, NLT)

People are made right with God when they believe that God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for their sin, they repent of their sin, and they follow Him wholeheartedly. God is fair and just and demonstrates His righteousness and grace when He declares sinners to be right in His sight as they believe in Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the Living God. (Taken from Romans 3:25-26)

Yes, grief is a journey in which we all must partake because death is a reality in this life. Though we still have the memories of those we hold dear, our journey with grief will either be from mourning to despair or from mourning to joy. Having eternal life in Christ is the only pathway for hope and healing as we make that difficult and unwelcome journey.

We have just celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the new life He offers each of us. In light of the fact that everyone will face death, this would be a good time for you to ask the question: To which group do I belong? Eternally “confined in sin” (hell) or eternally “saved by grace” (heaven). There are but two choices.