Giving Hope To The Grieving

What Does Jesus Teach Us About Dealing With Grief?

Jordan Hill
Feb 28, 2021    53m
Have you experienced the loss of a loved one? This message of comfort shares raw and honest real-life testimony of those who have suffered loss, and an example from scripture, on how to help those dealing with grief. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

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Jordan Hill: 00:07 I'm thankful for our time already this morning, we had just had a beautiful 8:00 AM service. If you've ever considered joining us, please do. I'm Just thankful to sing praises to our God, to be reminded that he has called us out of the grave, that our eternity is set, and so now, whatever may come, we can say it as well with our soul. Amen. Amen. It's great to see you.

Jordan Hill: 00:33 So if you've been following along with us, we've been in a series called Real Conversations. So what we're trying to do is look at Jesus and what did he do, how did he engage people in real conversation? I'm thankful today to be in one of my favorite passages of scriptures in John 11, so if you have your Bible, you can go ahead and turn there. There's so much in this particular passage in John 11, we see Jesus' authority, and actually Jesus showing his authority in such a manner that he had not yet done. What he did here, is show that he really is the resurrection and the life, and that he ultimately has final authority over the greatest and last enemy, death itself. So we get that, but what I also get is where we're really going to focus in on today, we see Jesus giving hope to the grieving.

Jordan Hill: 01:35 Now, if we're just honest with ourselves, it's very hard to walk with people who are grieving. And not that we don't want to, not, not that we don't try to do everything we can to help people who are grieving, we just don't know how. Like we don't want to mess up, we don't want to say the wrong thing, we don't want to be too distant, but we don't want to be kind of smothering, we just, we don't know what to do. Well, I'm so thankful that we see that Jesus gives us a beautiful example of what it looks like to give hope to the grieving by being present in the pain and grieving with those who are grieving.

Jordan Hill: 02:15 I'm honored today to be joined by a panel who is going to give us some great, tangible insights as to how Jesus has met them. But I want to set the table before we start really diving in, because there's a lot here and I'll have a finite amount of time and I'm very long-winded, you can ask my wife. So what I want to do is just get us in the text, because this text in particular, it's very easy to just read it and move on. Just read it, yep, check, got it. Jesus wept, got it, and move on. But this is one of the most difficult, tough situations imaginable, and we can pull out amazing truths of who our savior is.

Jordan Hill: 02:57 So Jesus gets word that his friend Lazarus has fallen ill. Now we see there at the very beginning, that Lazarus was a man that Jesus loved. In fact, he loved him like a brother, but then we see who sent the word Lazarus, sisters, Mary and Martha, Jesus loved this family. And in fact, he loved this family as if it was his own. So Jesus gets word that a man he considered a brother has fallen ill, and what does he do? He waits two extra days. Now, if we're just honest, that doesn't make any sense, that that makes zero sense. Jesus gets word that Lazarus has fallen ill, Jesus, you're the only one who can help, and he waits two extra days. Now on one hand, what he's doing is he's dispelling any sort of theory that Lazarus really wasn't dead. So we can see from first century Jewish texts that they had this belief that a soul would actually hover over a body for two days. So Jesus, knowing he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, he actually was really waiting, so people knew, nope, not only was Lazarus dead, he actually was dead dead.

Jordan Hill: 04:20 But we also see that it is for Jesus glory that he waited, now that makes no sense. But if we're just honest, like, have you ever felt like you've reached out for Jesus for help, and you didn't get the help you were asking for? What do you do in that moment? So Jesus just said it's for his glory, that he waited two extra days. And so wait a second Jesus, we know you're good, it's for your glory, but you waited two extra days. See Mary and Martha didn't really understand, that's why you'll see when Jesus comes in on the scene, they're hurting. See Jesus comes in and he gives hope to the grieving. What has happened now in this situation, they've reached out to Jesus, the person they love, they need help, they need Jesus to come through. Where are you at, Jesus? We need some help, our brother is dying, where are you? And what looks like Jesus being late, is actually him being right on time. Now I'm so thankful that Jesus doesn't just dismiss those feelings, but in fact, you'll see, he gives hope to the grieving by stepping in, being present in the pain, grieving with the grieving, so that now Mary and Martha can grieve like those who have hope.

Jordan Hill: 06:03 And so I'm thankful today to be joined by some individuals who have just felt that hope, that tangible hope in Jesus. And so I just want to introduce our panel real quick, we have Evan Halferty, Joy Roberts and Marisol Soto. And so I thank y'all so much for being here.

Jordan Hill: 06:22 If you mind Marisol, we'll just start with you. If you'll just kind of real quick, give us just a brief explanation of your of your story slash why you've decided to graciously join us today.

Marisol Soto: 06:41 Well last year was a rough year for my husband and I and for our family. Exactly a year ago on February 28, I lost a pregnancy, I had a miscarriage. And then last October, I lost my dad in a tragic accident. He was working on some stuff in his house and he got electrocuted, and my brother found his body days after, so he was not in good shape, it was a rough situation. So the reason why I decided to be here today is because I had the joy of meeting God through my pain, and experienced the healing that comes from putting my hope in him. So I hope that as we share a little bit more we can perhaps help you navigate how to accompany a person that is going through grief, and if you are grieving that you can find the Lord in the midst of your pain.

Jordan Hill: 07:47 Amen. Joy.

Joy Roberts: 07:51 Thank you. I'm Joy Roberts, and I'm here because I want to help others, and because Ross asked me to. In the fall of 2007, I received a shocking call from my husband's best friend in California. We knew Jim was sick, but tragically, I learned that we lost Jim, my husband, my kids father, friend to so many. Most importantly, a faithful follower of Christ until the disease of depression, he had taken his life. At that time, my daughter was 14, Jillian, she had just started high school. Can you imagine just started high school? My son had just turned 12, Jonathan. My story of loss and my journey of grief, is really like so many others, it doesn't feel easy to put in quick soundbites, I'm going to do my best to help and answer questions. My loss is threefold, I grieve the loss of my husband deeply, but I also grieve my children's loss as they grieve loss of their father, and they grieved very differently, that grief continues today.

Joy Roberts: 09:03 Mental illness is being talked about so much more today than it was 13 years ago, and for that I'm very grateful. Thank you, Ross for talking about depression and anxiety, you know, several weeks ago. The brain is really the most complex and amazing organ in our body, but it's one that doctors and pharmacologists, they know the least about, they know the least about medicines that work. In Jim's case had been on several different combinations of medicine across many, many years, he was in the midst of changing medicine, those that have done that aptly say that they've described it as going to hell and back. I asked Ross, can I say that word? He said, yes. Jim fought the good fight, imperfectly as we all do, but I know that he instantly was welcomed into heaven, into eternity, and healed and perfected. And for that, I'm now very, very grateful. We've talked a lot about how grief takes a lot of work, and I'm so thankful that God was there to comfort me in my pain, and that friends have been faithful. The why is, I can declare God's faithfulness, and I can say it's been very difficult at times but we've survived, and not only survived but often thrive. So...

Jordan Hill: 10:25 Praise God. Evan?

Evan Halferty: 10:27 Yeah, so I'm Evan Halferty, my wife is Sarah Halferty, and we were missionaries in Papa, New Guinea for several years and then was having some trouble trying to get back on the field. So then David Parker asked me to be a part of the 121 family, and be a part of the team. And so I started on staff at 121, not knowing what our life was going to look like. And if I cry, I'm sorry. November of 2018, the 20th of November, we actually lost our first son Rowen to what we believe is RSV, it's still undetermined. And so, yeah, so we thought we were going back on the field, we didn't, and at that point we understand why we didn't go back on the field. And so now it's been a couple of years, and it's just been an amazing opportunity that God has given us to share his story, and to love on other people who've lost children. Whether it's in the womb, or whether they're 30, and so it's just been an amazing opportunity. And so, yeah.

Jordan Hill: 11:53 Thank you. Thank you. These are not easy, there's no right or wrong answer to give when you're experiencing something like this. But what we can do is take some principles from God in his word, and thankfully from our brothers and sisters here, on what to do. So we see the first thing, and the best thing, that you can actually do for somebody to give them hope when they're grieving, is just by being present in their pain. So we see in John 11 Jesus comes into town after he gets word, right? He waits a couple of days, he's coming into town. Martha, the first sister is the one who meets him. So Martha and Mary were practicing a Jewish custom where they didn't leave the house for 30 days, Martha comes bolting out and meets him. And she says, "Jesus, if you had just been here, my brother wouldn't have died. Yet, now I know, even now, if you ask God anything, he will give it to you." And I want you to see how Jesus just reacts to her real quick. In verse 23 and chapter 11, "Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me though he die, yet shall he live." So you see what Martha was trying to do right there, she was just kind of going out there to meet him, confront him a little bit, but then give the correct answer and really what she was trying to do right there is get Jesus to do something. And Jesus is sitting there saying, yes, I know, yes, I will raise the dead, I have the authority to raise the dead. But I'm not here just to do that, I'm here to be here. I don't just, I'm not just able to resurrect, I am the resurrection and the life. So one of the first and best things we can do is just be present in the pain.

Jordan Hill: 13:57 Joy, in thinking of people's presence, what were some ways that people just came alongside you in your time of grief?

Joy Roberts: 14:11 Very importantly, before Bill even gave me the phone call, he had already put my dearest friend Lisa on a plane from California. And my first call here was to Joanie, who was in my life group. And she already was working on someone to pick up Lisa who was coming in late at night, and people just showed up to help, they showed up to help that day. They showed up to pray for me, and they would send me prayers. They would send me songs that ministered to me, they would help me make decisions to plan the service. My brain was very incapable, I'm a capable woman, but it was very incapable right then of making decisions and of doing things. And so people came along, they delivered food, they took my son that grew like a weed to buy appropriate clothes and shoes for the funeral, they helped with business decisions I had to make. They found an attorney to help with legal decisions. Wrote notes, again, one of my friends wrote the most spirit-filled prayers and sent them to me, and they were like prayers that I could pray when I had no words to pray, they were the words I needed to be praying. Just so many ways that people helped.

Jordan Hill: 15:32 Evan what about you, did you ever want some time to yourself? Did you ever feel smothered? What about you?

Evan Halferty: 15:39 No, I didn't. One of the coolest things we had was, when Rowen first passed away I called a dear friend, and he got so many people to the hospital that they actually had to move everybody because there were so many people standing in the hallways. They actually had to move everybody to the, I believe it was like their little sanctuary in the in the hospital. So it was just an amazing thing to see, how when you're in the lowest of lows, God will put people around you to love on you and to care for you. And like Joy said, there are many decisions that you cannot make, your body basically goes into a survival mode, and you don't realize what's going on most of the time. And so just having people there to, hey, you need to do this next. Hey, when was the last time you ate? Hey, when was the last time you took a drink? Those decisions, you really don't realize that you're not thinking of them, but your body literally shuts down and just goes into survival mode. And so it's those things that people do for you, that it's just the Lord saying, hey, I'm here for you, I'm going to hold on to you, I'm going to take care of you.

Jordan Hill: 17:16 Marisol, what about for you? You're somebody who's very active in the community, you've always been there for people, how were people there for you just in the days after?

Marisol Soto: 17:28 What is interesting is that for both events, for the miscarriage and also for the loss of my father, I couldn't rely a hundred percent on my husband to be there. Because when I had the miscarriage Arnaldo was in a 10 week deployment, a deployment for the Air Force, he was completing this. And then when I lost my father, that day he had been diagnosed with COVID, and he was in quarantine. So it's amazing thinking back how at those points, God surrounded me with people that loved me well.

Marisol Soto: 18:02 I remember that when I first realized that I was losing the pregnancy and called people, they called other friends, and friends called other friends. And within a matter of minutes, I had people showing up at my house, they already had a plan because I couldn't think. So, they already had divided roles, I'll take you to the ER, she's going to stay with your kids, she's going to do this, she's going to call Arnaldo, she's going to...And so, everybody already took care of me. And then when I showed up at the ER, I had so many people at the ER, it was the same situation, people were like, who are all of you with? We're with her, and then they stayed there until I was discharged. And some of them said, do you want us to follow you in our cars, to your house, even though somebody was driving me. And I felt loved, I had a friend that, she showed up to my house and she said, I can sleep with you, and she stayed in my bed with me.

Marisol Soto: 18:57 The same happen when my father died, I got the news when I was at a park and I started screaming. And in a matter of seconds, people surrounded me, and strangers were like, what can we do? And the lady that was with me taking care of my kids, she said I'm going to call her husband, and then some people brought water, some people said I'm gonna take care of her kids, don't worry. And so thinking back, even though I was in that big pain, and in that moment, I couldn't see God being there with me, now I realize that he was there and his loving and caring presence was there in the form of people that loved me well throughout. People, for weeks, dropped food at my porch, walked my dog, because I didn't feel like I could do those things.

Jordan Hill: 19:48 Hmm, that's beautiful. A common thread that I'm sure you've heard right now, is you just can't even think, grief takes hold of you so much that you can't even think to do little things. And Evan, if you don't mind just sharing, it can feel at first, right, when it first happens, everyone's there, and give us some insight into how lonely it can be in the coming time after.

Evan Halferty: 20:16 Yeah. So right when it first happens, there's so many people around, and there's so many people loving on you. And then a month, two months, three months afterwards, it feels like nobody's there, and some of those times can get pretty dark. But in those times, is when literally you're walking down a hallway at work and somebody will grab you and just hug you. And you're like, why are you hugging me, why are you touching me, I don't need this right now. But that's the Lord saying, I love you, and there's still people here for you. Or it's somebody sending a note. We had a lady, a whole year after Rowen passed away, every single week she sent us a letter, in the mail, handwritten, and just had Bible verses on it. It was crazy. Because the whole paper you're like, where does it even start? Because there was so much scripture on it, and so many songs on it, and it was just amazing to see. And it's those things that, those little tiny things that it's just like, the Lord is still there with you and he's still holding onto you.

Jordan Hill: 21:27 Hmm, so we can be present in the pain for people who are grieving. What's amazing is, Jesus could have just stayed where he was at, and he could have just spoken and Lazarus would have been healed. We saw it a couple of weeks ago with the Roman Centurion, right? The Roman Centurion is begging Jesus to heal his friend, and Jesus just speaks it and he's healed. He could have done that, but what he did was he went in, he went to be with them because he was going to be present in the pain. You just heard it right there, show up, drop off some food, text them, say, hey, I'm coming over. I know you don't want to do this, I'm going to take care of the laundry and you're going to shower because you need it. Those are things when you're grieving that you just don't even think about, and these are ways that we can just very tangibly give hope to people who are grieving.

Jordan Hill: 22:34 But what I love is we see with Jesus, he's not just there, but then he grieves with the people who are grieving. What I want us to see real quick before we look at a great way that Jesus was grieving, is here's an example of what not to do. So after Jesus gets taken to the grave where Lazarus is laid, he sees them, Jesus just weeps. And then we see the Jewish people who were there grieving with Mary and Martha, they then, for lack of a better term, open up their dumb mouth and they say the wrong thing. So you can see here in verse 37, this is right after Jesus weeps. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?” Okay, so Jesus just weeps, they had been weeping with Mary and Martha. And now they're insulting him, now some of the Jewish people there are saying, Oh, could Jesus, who's constantly going around talking about how he's this and he's that, could he not have just raised him from the dead?

Jordan Hill: 23:48 That's a massive, hey, read the room, you don't say that right there. Now, oftentimes we can mean well when we say some things, clearly here I don't think they mean well. But we can mean well when we're trying to say some things. And Joy, if you mind just sharing, what may have been something that people said to you in the days after, that maybe they meant well, but they should have just not said this

Joy Roberts: 24:24 Really people ministered more than said such wonderful, positive things. But I'll say this, because one of my closest friends used to always ask, are you okay? I wasn't okay. I mean, I knew her well enough, sometimes I could just almost scream at her, but not really. I would say, I'm not okay, I'm never going to be okay again. I mean, no, I'm not okay. But it's so normal for us to ask, are you okay? How are you doing? And even today, 13 years later, I have a friend just lost her husband. And it starts to come to my mind to ask that, so I said, I know you're not doing okay, you know, I know it's hard. Tell me, do you want to talk about it or do you want to just talk about other things? She'd be really direct, and I just want to talk about other things today, or sometimes it just gives her the permission to talk about it. So that's one thing I guess.

Joy Roberts: 25:23 Another thing would be, when I was a widow, you know, you ready to start dating? I mean, that came pretty soon, and the thought of that was really nauseous to me. I mean, I just wasn't there, I was focused on grieving and grieving is hard work, it's a lot of work, it's a long journey. And I also just felt very firmly that my kids had lost her dad, and they were not going to lose their mom. So I was very focused on, you know, being a mother and helping them. And I think the third thing is, I think people just don't know what to say, so they want to say, you know, how did your husband die? And for me that wasn't, it wasn't like a 30 second answer. I don't think it is for anybody because your story is your story, it's God's story too, but it takes a while. So you need time, you need space, and it needs to be the right time. So I think of that today, now, and I don't ask that question as much. So I just try to be there for them and encourage them.

Jordan Hill: 26:30 We can, we want to help, right, we don't want to make things worse. We want to say something to give just some help, but we just don't even know what to say. One thing, that for some reason happens, is where it's sometimes afraid to say the person's name. And Ross has mentioned this book, but it's a great book by Nancy Guthrie, it's called What Grieving People Wish You Knew. And it is a fear that we bring up that person's name, as if we're going to just dig into the wound. But actually it can be a great hope, and it can really give life to the person. Evan, what's it like for you when people bring up Rowen?

Evan Halferty: 27:19 I absolutely love it, it's fantastic, because I know then that they are still thinking of him and they're still remembering him. Right? And so one of the things that I love about Ross is that he would always ask me, tell me one story about Rowen that you remember. That question right there is amazing, because it allows you to just remember things that you probably don't even remember long time ago. So me and Sarah always ask that question to each other is, what are one of the things that you remember about Rowen that you still love? And it's just, that's a great question to ask people.

Jordan Hill: 28:06 Hmm. Marisol, what are some things that people have said to you that were just life-giving in this time?

Marisol Soto: 28:20 Similar, I had had experience with Ross that he came and he asked, what is it that you're going to miss the most about your dad? And then I immediately felt like my face lighting up. And I'm like here I go, I'm going to tell you all of these amazing things about him, and I get to talk about him, and you get to meet him through my eyes. And so that for me was very powerful. And also, the thing that I appreciated the most were those people that showed up and they were willing to cry with me and just not say anything. Because in my particular case, for those of you that do not know me well, I am a licensed clinical psychologist. I work with people that grieve, my dissertation was in traumatic loss, none of that prepped me for this.

Marisol Soto: 29:12 And I'm also an ordained minister, and I have walked with the Lord since I'm little, none of that prepped me for those moments. And when my dad died, my immediate reaction was the same as Martha, like God, if you would have been here, he wouldn't have died, like you could have prevented this. And my immediate response was disappointment, and I was frustrated at God and I was angry. But at the same time, I felt ashamed for even having those thoughts and feelings, because it's like, oh, you should know better, you are going to see your dad again, and you need to put your trust in God. And so when people showed up to preach that to me, and it was way too soon, I didn't appreciate that. That only made me feel like I was immature in my faith, like I shouldn't be feeling this way. And it's hard to see someone grieve and not being able to fix it, but I appreciated when I had a friend that called me and the only thing she said on the phone was, Marisol, and she was sobbing, and for me, that was life-giving too.

Jordan Hill: 30:18 Mm. So good. That is so true, God's word is an anchor to our souls, absolutely. All God's promises are, yes and amen. But the word is, it is like a sword. And so we need to know when to swing that sword around, to fight off an enemy, and when we need to just sheath it and use it as a comfort. While yes it is true, God is sovereign over everything that happened here, he is totally sovereign right here. And yes, it was God's will that Lazarus would die. But notice what Jesus does when he is met by Martha, when he's met by Mary, and they tell him, Jesus, if you had just been here, he would not have died.

Jordan Hill: 31:17 Notice what he does not do, he does not say, guys, hey, just relax. Just relax, I've got this, calm down. I'm about to raise him from the dead, we're fine, we're fine, we're fine, just chill, chill out. He weeps with them. Now the weeping in there, the word is, it's like an angerly weep, because there's this indignation that's happening. Jesus is mad, he's upset, and he's hurting. Why? He knew what he was about to do, why did he weep? Because he knew it's not supposed to be this way. Brothers and sisters, let us not praise and welcome death and greet death as a friend, when God specifically refers to it as an enemy. So we can celebrate the fact that yes, death now, if you are in Christ, has no eternal sting because of the debt that Jesus has paid. However, it is still an enemy and it will be defeated one day. So we can celebrate life, but we can grieve with the grieving because it's not supposed to be this way.

Jordan Hill: 32:48 CS Lewis talks about in his book, A Grief Observed, where he likens losing a loved one to like an amputation, losing an arm. And he says, when you lose an arm, you actually remember what it's like to have an arm. And so you reach for things with your arm that's not there, and then it brings it up all over again, and you have to learn whole new ways of living without an arm. See, for us to give hope to the grieving, we've got a grieve with them, and it's tough. But we have to step in. Why? Because that's what our savior has done. Evan, how can someone love those who are grieving on days like birthdays, and holidays, and Christmases? How can someone love someone like that?

Evan Halferty: 33:52 I think one of the things that we do in our house is that when we see lady bugs, we feel like Rowan's around, right? And so lots of people, whether it's on his heaven day, or whether it's on his birthday, will send us lady bugs. And it's those little things that just remind you that God is still here, and that Rowan is still alive. He's not alive here on this earth, but he's alive in heaven and he's loving it, and he's building my house right now and I'm excited for it. But it's those little things in life that, especially around holidays, I think holidays is the worst for me. And probably for Sarah, Sarah would probably say the same thing, that holidays are the worst. But it's those little things where people send us a little lady bug, just to say, I love you, we're still thinking of him.

Jordan Hill: 34:54 Joy, because we know grief is, it's not a quick thing, it's a journey. What's it like for you, give us some insight just for you walking into a room, and how can somebody better love you, after they've lost their spouse?

Joy Roberts: 35:12 I think especially in the early days, but sometimes even now, walking into church because the church was such a bonding time for Jim and I and our family, walking into church alone is sometimes difficult. I have dear friends, some of which are here this morning, that will save a seat for me, or text, we're going to sit here. That's pre-COVID, where you could choose your seat, you know? And I think, just adding to the holidays, just having plans, sending cards. I have a dear friend who's included us at her family Thanksgiving every year, and we're like family together. Others have joined us on Christmas day, give up their Christmas, have Christmas Eve with their family to spend Christmas with us. Yet another friend, and with one of my life groups, host Christmas Eve brunch every Christmas Eve. And that's just a time for us to feel loved by big families, and feel part of something that's big.

Jordan Hill: 36:14 Hmm. Praise God. Marisol, what's it like for you today? And what are ways that Jesus tangibly met you then, and he's still tangibly meeting you today?

Marisol Soto: 36:36 As I mentioned before, tangibly speaking, I was able to see God's there in so many details. During his death, for example, my dad always spoke that he wanted a quick death, that he didn't want to suffer. So that was one of the things that we were able to realize. Also he died in Puerto Rico where I was born and raised, and at the time of his death, there was a backlog of bodies because of the COVID situation, and we were told that we needed to wait three weeks. For me, the idea of going three weeks without having that closure sounded like a nightmare, but we were able to find somebody that speed that process in the forensic department. And we were given his body within hours, so we could quick but him to the ground. There were no places to bury him, again because of the same situation that we have in my country, and a distant relative offered her family grave, so now he's with uncles and cousins. Those tangible ways I could see God's love, care, and providence, throughout taking care of those details.

Marisol Soto: 37:47 And again, the people showing up in loving ways, was another way that I could see God. What is it like for me today? It's interesting to see how losing someone, gives you a different perspective on your life. And one of the things that I realized is, that now happy memories are somehow tainted by sadness. And even new things that you go through that are exciting, like getting a new house, having another child, it's almost inevitable to go through those happy, exciting moments without saying, I wish he would be here, I wish he could meet my child, I wish that he could see my house, and he would be so proud of me. So I'm still navigating those aspects of my grief.

Marisol Soto: 38:36 At this point for me, was another way that God showed up in a very special manner, was that I was able to go to his house and found his Bible and all his journals. And I read through his songs and poems, and most of the songs that were marked were songs about being face-to-face with his Lord. And so, [inaudible] saying, hey, Marisol he was ready, he was ready for me, that was reassuring. And I could see that God showed up to me in that way, and he knew that I needed that. So I'm still navigating it because it's pretty fresh.

Jordan Hill: 39:15 Praise God. Evan, what about for you, what were ways that Jesus just tangibly met you then, and he's continuing to meet you today?

Evan Halferty: 39:23 I think for us, one of the big thing was, is you're never ready for a child to go to heaven, you're never ready. And so financially we were not ready for that, and so we're just, I remember two, three days after, we were just trying to figure out how we're going to pay for all this? What does that look like? And we had somebody call us and said, hey, everything's paid for, don't worry about it. And so those things are the things that you realize that God is in control and he's ready, he was ready for Rowan to come home, and ready for Rowan to be there and heaven. And so it's those things, and now for us we work with a ministry called Hope Family Cares. Who their ministry is specifically dealing with parents who've lost children from zero all the way up to however old, it doesn't matter. And so for us now, giving back to people who've lost children is just, it's so fulfilling, it's just amazing to see. And it's amazing to hear these people's stories of parents who've lost children.

Jordan Hill: 40:51 Joy, what about for you?

Joy Roberts: 40:55 I could talk about this all day long because God has been so very faithful to me, to us. I would say God has tangibly met me, first of all, through friends continuing to show up 13 years later, people are still pouring into our lives. God has tangibly met me by being so faithful to my children. I mean, one of my prayers was that godly men would show up and be a part of my kids' lives. And certainly the early days, some of Jim's best friends, but later swim coaches, professors, the husbands of some of my best friends here at the church and in my community group, they have all poured into my children. And they're not children anymore, but you know they are always children, you know, so tangibly. And then for me personally, God has met me in the most intimate ways, I can't even explain it. He met me in my deepest tears when I had no words, when I could only sob and listen to songs with good theology or scripture being read, and in my heart I could just think and groan, yes, God, that it's true, or yes, I want that to be true. I couldn't even utter a word, but I would know that he was there in a way that was so clear. And hope is one of my favorite words, you know, what's so great is we don't have to hope as the world hopes. In Hebrews, there was a verse I just anchored in, and you mentioned it earlier. We're told we can seize the hope before us, we can have an anchor for our soul, it's strong, it's firm, it's trustworthy. And I felt that in a way that's so tangible, that Christ was a stable anchor for my soul.

Joy Roberts: 42:52 And another verse that you've all heard, that's familiar, but I read something that was a twist on it. And it's Isaiah 40:31, "Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like Eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint." And sometimes in those early days, the hardest thing and the toughest thing, is to walk and not faint. And so sometimes we just, we think of, oh, the soaring, but God's there on the days that you can't, and then there's days later on when he's helping me soar. And I'm just so grateful that he just continues this day to give me hope, a secure hope. And I know that the world's not my home, I know that God will one day wipe away every tear, and there will be no more death, no more sorrow, no more crying, and all things will be made new. Our family will be reunited in eternity, you with your dad, you with Rowan, praising the our Savior all the day long. And what God's doing in my life now, I think it's just amazing how when scripture says this, that he will bring people into your life that you can help.

Joy Roberts: 44:07 And two ways through my grief journey, and my church, we had just moved from California, sent us over the first year, a set of four short books that are helpful to grieving people at crucial times of that first year. And they were helpful to me, so now I buy them and I send them to people are grieving. And then God's also just made me a very safe place, a place of refuge, for people that are either struggling themselves or have a family member that are struggling with depression or anxiety. I'm a safe place, you know, to talk, and they know that I will pray.

Jordan Hill: 44:49 Praise God. Evan, you've mentioned this before as we've talked, and I just wanted to give light to this. You've shared that while you're able to help, that you're glad to help, it's a group you definitely don't want to be in, but you found yourself in it.

Evan Halferty: 45:09 It's so true, every single person that's in our groups, they don't want to be in that group. But what you find is, is that we're all family, and the connection there of losing a child, and that bond that you have with each other, is just amazing. And it's truly awesome to see the Lord just putting, like Joy said, families, people, in our lives that say, hey, I've lost a child. And it's just truly amazing that God allows me and Sarah and our story to be able to minister to other people and to love on other people. Did we want that? No. Is that what we have, and that's what God gave us? Yes. Are we excited about it? Not at first, but now to be able to have groups, about every six months we start a new group through Hope Family Care. This last group, we had people all over the United States, we had people in Alaska, we had people in Wisconsin, we had people in Texas, so it was just amazing to see all these families all over the United States that are just dealing with this.

Jordan Hill: 46:37 Marisol, what are some things that you do to, you've already shared just how reflecting on the promises of God, just help you so much. What are some things that you do to just keep your fixed on His promises?

Marisol Soto: 46:52 For me, it's comforting to know that I serve a God that is familiar with what it's like to be separated from a father and from his child, and he knows what it's like to suffer, and, and he knows the pain that death brings. So he understands what I'm going through, and he's right there with me in my pain. It's also, for me, the idea of hope that he is making old things new, and that one day we will all stand in his presence, completely made new and we will celebrate that. He conquered it, and that I will get to see my dad again, that gives me hope. For some people it's difficult, they have a hard time understanding that we get to celebrate and grieve at the same time. That the kingdom of God is here, but not yet, and so we grieve, and at the same time we are excited for what is coming, and we can hold both things at the same time. So, yeah. And then as you mentioned, in my role as a psychologist, that's what I do. But now that I have experienced these grief's myself, I have a different perspective when I accompany people in the midst of their grief

Jordan Hill: 48:15 Praise God. Well, I want to thank all of y'all. I thank you for the courage that you've shown, thank you for the wisdom that you've imparted, and thank you for the strength that you've just shown all us so that we can better give hope to those who are grieving. If y'all don't mind, can you just give them a round of applause? Thank you.

Jordan Hill: 48:37 So I think you've heard what are some of the best things to do to give people who are grieving hope, we need to be present in the pain, grieve with those who are grieving, and we're to keep our eyes fixed on the promises of God. See, we're able to fully give hope to those who are grieving because Jesus is the resurrection and the life. See, at the end of the chapter, Jesus approaches the tomb, and he shouts out with a loud voice coming right off of him grieving, Lazarus, come out. And he shakes, Lazarus breathes, and he comes forward, still bound up with his death linens, and he says, unbind him.

Jordan Hill: 49:38 See the greatest and best thing we can ever do to give someone hope who's grieving, is remind them that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. That while yes, right now we are experiencing death, hurt, pain, and loss, but there is coming a day where death will be defeated, sorrows will be no more, and we won't have to grieve. See, Jesus did the hard work, and he bore our sins on the cross, and he died a death that we deserved, and he conquered death while rising on the third day, proving that now there's no more wrath for those who were in Christ. We share in that with him, we're United with him in his death, burial, and resurrection. That is what we just celebrated at baptism, it's what we just sang about, it's what we continue to sing about today.

Jordan Hill: 50:36 So I want to just share this, if you are grieving right now, you just heard it, the best thing you could do get plugged into community, we have so many people here who would love to pull you in. If you are not in Christ, I would beg you, plead with you, like actually the writer of Hebrews says, take stock today, now, let today be the day that you can rest assured that you know where your ending place will be. You heard our panel say it, yes, we feel it right now, but we can thank the promises of God, we can look back and rest assured on his promises, and we can look forward to the day. And so while yes, we're pressed and we're squeezed, we have hope, and we can give hope to those who are grieving.

Jordan Hill: 51:37 One of my favorite hymns was written by Martin Luther, the great reformer, and it's called From The Depths Of Woe. And he closes it by saying, "Though great our sins and sore our woes His grace much more aboundeth; His helping love no limit knows, our upmost need it soundeth. Our Shepherd good and true is He, who will at last His Israel free from all their sin and sorrow." Brothers and sisters, fix your eyes on the day that's coming, when all our sorrows will be no more, because Jesus is the resurrection and the life.

Jordan Hill: 52:27 Let me pray for us. Father, thank you for the hope that you've given us. Father, allow us to give hope to those who are grieving. Thank you for being present in our pain, thank you for grieving with us, and Lord Jesus, thank you for conquering death. And so now we may feel the pains of this world, we look forward to a day where it will be no more.

Jordan Hill: 53:07 Spend a few moments in just reflection, and reflect with the Lord. Maybe you need to lay aside some hurts. Maybe you just need to even start grieving, because you haven't even started the process. Let's just sit with the Lord.

Recorded in Grapevine, Texas.
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121 Community Church
2701 Ira E Woods Ave.
Grapevine, Texas 76051