Recently, I’ve been calling my friends from home, talking to them a lot about loneliness. This holiday season was my first without having my parents or close friends nearby. Although 2020 marks the start of my first full year in St. Louis, it’s also my first year being over four hundred miles away from family. My cell phone calls to Indiana and Michigan are the closest I get to genuine interactions with my loved ones as I continue to meet new people and develop deeper friendships where I am. In all of this, you could say my loneliness is a form of grief: the grief of losing what and who I grew up with.
Yet it’s during these lonely times in my apartment that I see and feel little signs that God is still present. For me, it’s when the church bells down the street start ringing out a hymn, or when I get to see the sunrise and the Arch on the skyline. He has not and will not abandon me, even when it feels like I am alone. He gives me and everyone in His kingdom beautiful gifts as reminders of His promises.
Pastor Kincaid writes Living with Grief: Bound by Sorrow, Wrapped in Comfort from a very real place of loss. Over the years, he has experienced the tragedy of losing several family members. Although my grief is not nearly as painful as Pastor Kincaid’s, there are things we can learn from all grief through Christ’s comfort. In fact, He provides comfort to us in three big ways.
1. God’s Word
Grief is perhaps the most raw emotion that humans can feel. Even our Savior knew and felt the tragedy of loss. He wept with others when His friend Lazarus died. Yet Christ, who knows our grief, meets us in it. And our Father gives us His Word to comfort us during these times. As Pastor Kincaid writes in Living with Grief: “When we hold the Holy Scriptures in our hands, we hold a treasure—for God’s Word is truth. We can rest our weary hearts upon it, knowing each word is true” (p.51).
God reminds us of His comfort for His people who weep:
- “For it is You who light my lamp; the LORD my God lightens my darkness” (Psalm 18:28).
- “[Cast] all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7 ).
- “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:3–4 ).
These verses are meant to comfort us: “Where God’s Word is proclaimed in all its truth and purity … there is a refuge for the soul, an oasis in a desert drear, a bastion of truth in a world of lies. The Lord delights in forgiving us, comforting us, and strengthening us” (p. 53).
2. Our Baptism
As Christians, we find the ultimate comfort through our Baptism. Years ago, as an infant or perhaps even as an adult, we were baptized and became children of God. We were marked as His and welcomed into the Kingdom. Those who believe will see Christ and sing His praise with all the heavenly host—we will join the redeemed and see our loved ones again.
Pastor Kincaid writes: “Comfort and consolation flow mightily—you are God’s own child, you are not orphaned, you are not alone, you are not cast off, you are baptized. Comfort is yours in your baptism!” (p. 56). Knowing that we will be reunited in heaven with our loved ones and with Christ Himself brings peace and healing. Take comfort in these promises bestowed upon you by the Holy Spirit through your Baptism.
“Forgiveness, life, and salvation are given by Christ at His Table” (p. 57). With His body and His blood, we are forgiven of our sins and receive eternal life through Him. This thought alone is a support to lean on: that our departed loved ones are forgiven of their sins and their souls are in heaven, comforted by Christ. Holy Communion strengthens our faith and reminds us of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. In this feast, we commune with our congregations, the angels, and all the saints who have gone before us, including our loved ones. Grief itself cannot stand against Christ’s promises.
“Comfort abounds … for you, and for me, as a pure gift from our gracious Savior through Word and Sacrament. He gives mercifully; we receive lavishly. He never tires of giving to you, of steadying and strengthening you, or reassuring you of His mercy and love. Your living and loving Savior holds you as most precious, the apple of His eye” (p. 58).
My grief over losing things is minimal. My family and friends can still be visited and are still very much alive. But I take the same comfort in Christ as you can: through the Word, Baptism, and Communion, He reaffirms that He will never abandon us.
Quoted text taken from Living with Grief: Bound by Sorrow, Wrapped in Comfort by Kristian Kincaid copyright © 2020, Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.
To read more of Pastor Kristian Kincaid’s story and words of comfort to those who are grieving, download a sample of Living with Grief: Bound by Sorrow, Wrapped in Comfort below.