Fighting the Good Fight of Faith in the Valley of Bereavement:
Seven Ways Grieving People Are Tempted

By Greg Wright, April 24, 2005
Preached at Grace Baptist Church, Hartsville, Tennessee

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(r), Copyright (c) 1960, 1962,
1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Several years ago, before I was a Reformed Baptist or even knew what a Reformed Baptist was, I had the privilege of being a leader in a Christian scouting group called Royal Rangers. The organization has as its motto the word ready: ready for anything; ready to work, play, serve, obey, worship, live, etc. I believe the Boy Scouts have a similar motto: the word prepared. Both programs teach a wide range of survival skills, such that any boy who goes through the whole program, takes it seriously, and studies it diligently receives excellent preparation and learns essential survival skills for even the most extreme physical challenges he might face. Today's sermon addresses spiritual challenges. We need spiritual survival skills. We need to be ready, and we need to be prepared for the many things in this life that will assault our faith. Thanks be to God, He has given us the scouting manual we need: He has given us His word. He has given us the Holy Spirit who guides us through His word. And I am convinced that any person who takes the Word of God seriously, studies it diligently, and abides in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, this person will be ready and prepared to stand against the various challenges to his faith. For he will find, as I have found, and as many have found before me: when the worst happens, Christ is enough. They can take away this world and everything in it. But the one who stands with Jesus will, indeed, stand, because Jesus will hold him up. I am going to make a bold statement; yet, I cannot make it without trembling in my heart. I am not naïve about the personal anguish that would accompany what I am about to describe. Nevertheless, I am convinced that we can lose our good name, our reputation, and our respect in the community. We can lose our homes, our jobs, our health, and even our families. But the soul who stands on the promises of Jesus Christ stands on solid ground. He stands upon a rock that cannot be moved. He rests upon a foundation that cannot be shaken. So it is that I come to praise that rock, the Rock of Ages: that cleft in which we can hide, that shelter in which we can pour out our hearts and be understood, that retreat in the high places where we can be nourished and strengthened for battle.

Therefore, it is not my desire today to be eloquent or erudite. It is not my intention to try to charm you with clever speech or sentimental stories. Rather, I want to be a signpost, just a simple signpost with an arrow that points to Christ:

  • Christ for salvation in a world that stands condemned.
  • Christ for hope in a world filled with despair.
  • Christ for comfort in a world where little children die.
  • Christ for faithful friendship in a world where infidelity abounds.
  • Christ for reason to live in a world that ignores God and lives for self.

I especially want to point to Christ as we consider the certainty of death and the temptations that come in the context of bereavement. There are several things we need to know:

  1. We need to know His promises so that we can be comforted when our friends and loved ones are taken.
  2. We need to know how to articulate the comfort of Christ so that we can comfort and encourage others.
  3. We need to know what to expect from the enemy of our souls so that we will not be caught unaware by his wicked devices.
  4. We need to be prepared to fight the good fight of faith in the valley of bereavement and in the valley of any kind of suffering. In fact, the things I am about to say can be applied to all kinds of suffering, although I will especially be speaking in the context of bereavement.

Meanwhile, thanks be to God, for believers Christ has removed the sting of death, making it a doorway to heaven. Sometimes death is described as a river. We draw back from its icy chill. But when we can see Christ on the other side of the river of death, we can more patiently bear the chill of its icy waters.

Death often brings us face to face with sin, guilt, and regret, but in Christ, we find His perfect righteousness credited to our account. Through His atoning work, we find peace with God.

Death separates us from those who added beauty and joy to our days. It removes those who loved and supported us. But Christ is that friend who is closer than a brother. He is a father to the fatherless and a husband to the widow. He is a companion to those who have lost husbands, wives, sons, and daughters. We lose what is precious only to rediscover He who is most precious of all, Jesus our Lord.

Death often leaves us confused and full of unanswered questions, but from Christ we hear, "Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me." (John 14:1)

In the valley of bereavement, Jesus encourages us to keep trusting in Him no matter what. Now trusting is easier to do during gentler times. For although faith speaks in your heart with a quiet voice, it can still be heard beside the green pastures and the still waters. In contrast, trust is hard to remember and hard to hear in your heart when you walk through the valley of bereavement. You know what you believe, but your pain screams louder than your faith. The quiet voice of faith gets drowned out when the waters of bereavement are raging, when the fierce winds of change are tearing your world apart, and when the strident and persistent noise of temptation and unbelief keeps taunting you. Sometimes temptation shouts. More often it torments and irritates like the persistent drip of a leaky faucet. Relentless, it wears you down. That is why you have to be determined to fight. You have to fight to keep believing at a time when it is not easy to believe. Indeed, the season of mourning is a dangerous time, for grief will either draw you closer to God, or it will push you further away from Him.

For this reason, I have chosen for our primary text 1 Timothy 6:12. "Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses."

This passage on the fight of faith uses the language of an atheletic competition. You can imagine a wrestler--muscles tense and sweat pouring--as he seeks to outmaneuver an opponent. In a similar way, when you face intense grief, you will wrestle against the world, the flesh, and the devil. You will fight against a worldview that denies God's power and knowledge, and you will fight against the words of people who deny His grace. You will fight against the destabilizing affects of bereavement on your own body as you feel the physical and emotional consequences of grief. You will fight against the remaining principle of sin and tendency towards sin that resides in every believer. And you will fight against external temptation as the forces of Satan try to turn your heart against God.

To fight against these things, you must lay hold of your salvation. To lay hold of your salvation is to lay hold of Christ. For without Christ we have no salvation. Without Christ, we have no deliverance from the consequences of sin and no power to fight against the temptation to sin. But with Christ, we have all we need to fight the good fight of faith.

Timothy's battlefield consisted of the struggles of a first century pastor. He endured many sorrows, and according to the book of Hebrews, he even spent time in prison.

The battlefield I am discussing at this time is The Valley of Bereavement. This is a battlefield many of us have faced and most of us will eventually face, as we are initiated into that society no one wants to join, the fellowship of broken hearts.

There are at least seven different ways your faith will be attacked, seven ways you will be tempted to deny your faith. We will look at each of these seven temptations and we will look for answers in the Word of God. Some of these attacks challenge the character of God. Others are designed to undermine your comfort in Christ by casting doubt on your relationship with God. Here are the seven challenges to your faith:

  1. You deserve better.
  2. Your God is indifferent to your pain.
  3. Your God is unable to prevent your pain.
  4. Your suffering is meaningless.
  5. Your conversion is phony.
  6. Your faith is phony.
  7. You suffer alone.

May God encourage our hearts as we seek to learn more about how to fight the good fight of faith.

You deserve better.
Let us consider the first temptation, the complaint against God that you deserve better. When a grieving person insists that he deserves better, he often says things like, "Why me?" or "What have I done to deserve this?"

But what do we really deserve? Let us consider this question from three perspectives:

  1. What do we deserve before God?
  2. What do we deserve compared to the wicked?
  3. What do we deserve compared to other Christians?

Before God.
Before God, every Christian should be clear on what he truly deserves. There was no death before man brought sin into the world. As written in Romans 5:12, "Through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned ." Not only did man bring sin into the world, but man has continued to live in rebellion against God. "All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way." (Isaiah 53:6) Apart from the grace of Jesus Christ, every human being lives in rebellion against God. Hell is what we deserve. Jesus was not obligated to die on the cross for our sins, and God was not obligated to save anyone. As hellish as bereavement can be, it falls far short of what we deserve before God. Before the God who is holy, holy, holy, every person deserves hell. Only by the grace of God do any of us have a home in heaven.

Before the wicked.
However, even though a grieving person might understand what he deserves before God, he might still ask "why me" in comparison to other people, especially outwardly wicked people. For although the Christian is not without sin, there is certainly a difference between those who are living for God and those who are ignoring Him. Why do careless high school girls so easily get pregnant while wholesome families try for years to have children and without success? Why does one Christian family have a child with chronic health problems while a dishonest family has a house full of healthy delinquents? The Psalmist asked the same kinds of questions. In Psalm 73:3-5 we read, "For I was envious of the arrogant as I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no pains in their death, and their body is fat. They are not in trouble as other men, nor are they plagued like mankind." Then in verses 13 and 14 the Psalmist says, "Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and washed my hands in innocence; for I have been stricken all day long and chastened every morning."

It looks to him like the wicked have it better than the righteous, or so the Psalmist says in his heart until he gets to verses 17 and 18: "Until I came into the sanctuary of God; then I perceived their end. Surely You set them in slippery places; you cast them down to destruction."

Then the Psalmist considers his own state in verses 25 and 26. "Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

The psalmist had to remember to look beyond this life for the ultimate blessings of God. He had to remind himself that eternal blessings are better than temporary blessings. Paul had to brace himself to do the same thing in 2 Corinthians 4:18 when he said, "We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal."

Before other Christians.
A grieving person might also be tempted to think about what he deserves compared to other believers. He might resent the easier life other Christians seem to have. Here we have to remember God does not seek to meet human demands for equality and so-called fairness. One person's path truly is more difficult than another person's. We certainly see this in John 21 after Jesus tells Peter to expect to die by crucifixion. Peter looks over at John and says, "Lord, and what about this man?" But how does our Lord respond? In John 21:22 Jesus replies, "If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!"

Like Peter, we are to follow Jesus on the path chosen for us. It is not someone else's path; it is our path. What we deserve in human terms has nothing to do with it. Rather, we need to lay aside what we think we deserve and commit our hearts to trusting God unconditionally. We need to resolve to follow Jesus no matter what. If we do this, we will be able to glorify God, learn contentment, find the sufficiency of His strength, and experience the joy of his comfort. If we refuse, we will endure the physical and spiritual consequences of bitterness and rebellion.

Your God is indifferent to your pain.
This brings us to the next temptation, the idea that your God is indifferent to your pain. Your God does not care if you hurt. It can certainly seem that way. Jesus was pretty blunt and not at all apologetic when he told Peter he would face crucifixion. This was God's sovereign design for Peter. This was God's plan and nothing in heaven or hell could thwart it. No explanation was given to soften the blow to Peter.

The sovereignty of God is one of the most important concepts in the Bible. It embraces the power of God, the will of God, and the right of God to rule all creation. It acknowledges that all God has ordained will come to pass, and it observes that God either causes or permits everything that happens. However, in the hour of bereavement, if the sovereignty of God is all you know about God, it can be devastating. God can seem like a steep and impersonal cliff: aloof and inaccessible. That is why it is so important to grasp the sovereignty of God with one hand and the character of God with the other. We must hold tightly to both. When my son died, I held tightly to the sovereignty of God. I knew it was God's will. I recognized that God either causes or permits all that happens. This protected me from believing that my mistakes or my son's mistakes had undermined God's plans, and it protected me from believing Stephen had died before his time. However, many days passed before I was able to reach out with the other hand and lay hold of the character of God. When I was able to remember all I had learned about the character of God, the sovereignty of God was more bearable.

For God's actions are always consistent with every aspect of His character. In contrast, it is common for human beings to act in ways that are rash and unexpected. Under stress, a normally gracious and kind person might lose his temper. But God is not like that. The God who judges is also the God who loves and forgives. The God who afflicts is also the God who heals. The God who ordains our days is also the God who leads us through them. He is not like man who is often tackled, controlled, and oppressed by his own passions. Indeed, we might be so overcome with compassion that we overlook what is in a person's best interest. God's compassion is different. He is able to see the past, the present, the future, and all things clearly. Thus, God is able to do what is truly best in the context of eternity.

Several verses describe God's compassion for His people. Here are some of my favorites. Psalm 56:8, "You have taken account of my wanderings; put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book?" Also Psalm 103:13-14, "Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust." Here is one more verse, especially important at the time of death, "Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his godly ones." (Psalms 116:15)

Your God is unable to prevent your pain.
At this point, the next temptation emerges. Many who are willing to admit the compassion of God deny His power. They say, "Your God is good, but He is unable to prevent your pain." In order to preserve their idea of a compassionate God--the idea that a truly compassionate God would remove all suffering if He could--they deny His ability to control and direct what happens.

But this is not what we find in scripture. Consider the sufferings of Joseph. How terrible, to be betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery. How unfair, to be imprisoned for doing what is right. How frustrating, to be forgotten by those you have helped. This story is filled with unexplained difficulties until Joseph is raised to the position of the second most powerful man in Egypt. My favorite passage in this story is that moment after Joseph's father dies when his wicked brothers, fearing for their lives, humble themselves before him. "But Joseph says to them, 'Do not be afraid, for am I in God's place? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.'" (Genesis 50:19-20)

Joseph acknowledges the evil intentions of his brothers, but at the same time he acknowledges the sovereign hand of God in all that had happened. God had incorporated the wicked designs of his brothers, Potiphar's wife, and others into his own sovereign plan.

One of the greatest examples of God using the wickedness of people to fulfill divine purposes is found in Acts 2:22-23. There Peter says, "Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know— this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death."

Here again, although Jesus was crucified by the wicked hands of men, and although these men are responsible for their actions, this was done under the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. God was in control.

If you release your grip on the doctrine of the sovereignty of God, you place your hope in a future that even the mind of God cannot know. If you release your grip on the doctrine of character of God--if all you can see in the time of crisis is His sovereignty--you place your hope in a God who does not care. You must hold on tightly to both. With the death-grip of faith, you must lay hold of the sovereignty of God and the character of God with both hands.

Your suffering is meaningless.
God is also all wise and all knowing. There is a careful design behind every aspect of your suffering and bereavement. Christians never suffer needlessly. As Lamentations 3:33 says, "For He does not afflict willingly or grieve the sons of men." We must remember this when we hear that other temptation, the charge that your suffering is meaningless. In contrast, David not only believed that God set the number of his days, but he also believed that God ordained the very events that made up those days. In Psalm 139:16 we read, "Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them." Before David was even born, God had already planned every aspect of his life. David's life would include many difficulties. Yet, in Psalm 119:71 we read, "It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Thy statutes."

God also has a preordained purpose and direction for each one of us. We find this purpose in Ephesians 2:10, "We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." God is doing a work inside of us. This work utilizes everything that happens in our lives. In Romans 8:28 we read, "God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." We are not necessarily called to understand everything God does and everything He allows, but we are called to trust Him. So when trouble does come, even in the midst of pain and confusion, let us say with David in faith, "It is good for me that I was afflicted."

Your conversion is phony.
Of course, it is much easier to trust God if you believe that you are a Christian. Two reasons come to mind:

  1. The promise of all things working together in your life for good applies to Christians; it does not apply to unbelievers.
  2. You can endure much if you believe that you have an interest in heaven.

But if you doubt your salvation, nothing can comfort you for very long. Therefore, if Satan cannot get you to doubt the character of God, he will try to get you to doubt God's saving work in your life. He will seek to persuade you that your conversion is phony.

This happened to me. I was certain that Stephen was in heaven. We had seen his phony, parent-pleasing, so-called conversion at an early age. But later when he was eleven, we had seen evidence of true repentance and faith. He saw the difference too, and he admitted that his earlier experience had been just to please us.

But I was not as sure about myself. Grief had dealt a mighty blow against my confidence. I had trusted Jesus as my Savior many years ago, and I even knew the basis for biblical assurance laid out in 1 John. But now I lacked assurance. During this time, I learned to understand Romans 8:35 in a new light:

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

For years, I had been perplexed by this verse. Why would anyone doubt God's love for him in the context of persecution? Suffering for the cause of Christ, should they not rather believe that God is especially tender towards them? Now I understood. Pain and Distress wars against spiritual assurance. It fights against faith. Physical and emotional trauma tempts us to stop believing. Especially at times like this, the fight of faith calls us to live by principle rather than by feeling. It calls us to cling with the death-grip of faith to the Word of God. In God's Word, we find His blessed promises to those who believe. As I learned to cling to those promises, my assurance and confidence was restored.

Your faith is phony.
So, why was I still so sad? Why was my faith not strong enough to keep me from grieving? The tempter would give this answer: your faith is phony. He would argue that if I had a strong enough faith in God, my journey through grief would quickly be over.

Indeed, it is easy to misunderstand what faith does for the grieving person. No doubt, I had very unrealistic expectations. My son died on a Thursday, he was buried on Sunday, and I did not cry until the following Monday. I steeled myself against grief by focussing on the funeral, the burial, the guests, my family, and the greatest opportunity we would ever have to share the gospel. I was so confident that I would quickly get through this, I told one of my elders that I wanted to be over this in six months. Wisely, he said, "Don't count on it."

Little did I realize that I was experiencing the affects of shock. Shock was like a temporary dam holding back the flood. When that dam burst and I had to face the full brunt of what had happened, it would shake me to the depth of my very soul.

I learned a lot of things about faith at that time:

  • Faith does not prevent grief; it directs it.
  • Faith does not anesthetize the pain of grief; it makes the pain bearable.
  • Faith does not prevent the trauma of grief; it leads us to the healer.
  • Faith does not lift us above the sadness of grief; it leads us to the joy that no one can take away, the joy of knowing the comfort of Jesus Christ.

You suffer alone.
This faith is in a person. This faith is in Jesus Christ. Faith is not something of our own making by which we merit salvation. Faith is the gift of God through which we receive salvation.

  • By faith, we believe Jesus will be there for us when we face that final battle.
  • By faith, we believe that when our last breath has expired, Jesus will bring us safely home.
  • By faith we believe, even in the midst of great emotional turmoil, that Jesus is with us and will never forsake us.

In contrast, the tempter would have you to believe that you suffer alone. He would ask, "What makes you so sure God is with you?"

R. C. Sproul mentions four ways in which God is close to us:

  1. He is present in upholding creation.
  2. He is present in the directing history.
  3. He is present in the incarnation.
  4. He is present in the Holy Spirit.

We also know the presence of God at a more personal level:

  1. We see it in His word by faith when he promises to never leave us nor forsake us.
  2. We see it in His people when they become the very hands of God, ministering to us in our time of sorrow.
  3. We see it in public worship as God abides in the midst of the praises of His people.
  4. We see it in our private devotional experience.

But most of all, we must see it in the promises we find in scripture. When the joy of people, public worship, and private devotional experience is undermined by the affects of grief, the promises in the Word of God will sustain us. There we will find the promise of the grace of God to strengthen us. In 2 Timothy 2:1, Paul tells Timothy how to be strong: "You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus."

Paul conveys this same idea of being strong in the Lord in several other places. Another one is Ephesians 6:10, "Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might." Another is 2 Corinthians 12:9 where Paul writes, "He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.' Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me." Another one is Colossians 1:29, "For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me."

The Apostle Peter makes similar promises in 2 Peter 1:3-4, "His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust."

As Christians, you have God inside of you: the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives you insight into the word of God, and the Holy Spirit makes Christ known to you. As it is written in John 15:26, "When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me." So as you fight the good fight of faith, you fight not in your own strength but in the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells within you. This is promised in the Word of God.

However, as Christians we are not always sensible of the presence of the Holy Spirit. The sense of warmth and intimacy that we used to feel might disappear for a while. We might feel like the Lord has departed from us. Many grieving Christians have been tormented by a sense of spiritual dryness. This happened to me. I felt like I was in a tunnel where no one could hear me. It seemed like my very prayers were bouncing off the walls. The closest thing I could find to compare to this feeling was that time as a seven year old boy when I was so sick that I could not hear myself crying. I knew I was crying, but I could not hear it. That was a scary experience, and that is how it felt to be isolated from the sense of God's presence.

The cry after a seemingly distant God is also found in the Psalms. We see this in Psalm 10:1, "Why do You stand afar off, O LORD? Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?" We see it again in Psalm 13:1-2, "How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart all the day? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?" Also in Psalm 42:9-10: "I will say to God my rock, 'Why have You forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?' As a shattering of my bones, my adversaries revile me, while they say to me all day long, 'Where is your God?'"

But David did not end there, and neither should we. Rather, we must wait patiently for God to accomplish his work in our hearts. This is what David did. In Psalm 40:1-3 he wrote, "I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; many will see and fear and will trust in the LORD."

I will always remember my 45th birthday. Steve had been dead for a little over a year. Although much healing had taken place, the pallor of grief still covered everything.

This was a warm, crisp April day. Flowers were blooming everywhere. My wife Nan and her cousin Kathleen joined me for a delightful lunch at an Indian restaurant in downtown Nashville. Later I took my wife back with me to LifeWay Christian Resources, where I work. Many gracious people greeted us as we made our way to my new office. With three large windows to let in the sunshine, it was certain to cheer my days while grief ran its course. After Nan left, I returned to my office and considered what a great day it had been. But as always, my cheerful thoughts were quickly interrupted with the reality of ongoing grief, that same morbid cloud that covered everything: "It is not enough. It is not enough because Stephen is gone." Only this time there was more. "Stephen is gone, but God is here."

What happened in the next few moments is hard to describe. The warmth of the joy of the Lord covered every part of me. Suddenly I felt a happiness that I had not known for several months. It was as though the very gates of heaven had opened just enough to allow me to see beyond apparent gloom to true spiritual reality. This special experience with God would keep my heart lifted high for several days.

But yes, like all spiritual experiences of this nature, it faded, but I never forgot it. Indeed, it continues to remind me that there is a joy ahead of us that we will know--not just for a moment or a few days--but for all eternity.

Meanwhile, we are on a journey, a journey where we are called to stand firm and fight the good fight of faith.

In the last few minutes, I have attempted to identify some of the temptations that face a grieving person and how we can respond to them:

  1. When the tempter says you deserve better, remember that God gave us His best; He gave us His son.
  2. When the tempter says God is indifferent to your pain, remember those verses that talk about the compassion of God for those who fear Him.
  3. When the tempter says God is unable to prevent your pain, remember how God used proximate pain for ultimate good. Remember how God used pain for good in the life of Joseph and in the life of his own Son.
  4. When the tempter says your suffering is meaningless, remember Romans 8:28 where God promises to use everything that happens in your life for ultimate good.
  5. When the tempter says your conversion is phony, remember to rest on God's promises.
  6. When the tempter says that the intensity of your grief indicates that your faith is phony, remember that faith does not take away the pain of grief. Rather, it makes the pain bearable.
  7. And when the tempter says you suffer alone, remember to trust your Bible, not your feelings. While God promises to always be there for you, He does not promise you will always feel His presence. Sensible presence is a gracious work of the Holy Spirit but not a constant work. Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit is always there.

I hope this sermon has been useful in at least three ways:

  1. I hope it has encouraged those who have recently lost loved ones.
  2. I hope it has worked to equip us for future challenges.
  3. I hope it has provided a means for us to encourage others.

You are called to fight. Be strong in the Lord. May God strengthen you with His power and His might. May the Holy Spirit keep the Word of God before you. May the joy of the Lord lighten your days whenever you face adversity. May God protect your faith, even as He has promised. And when that day comes when we stand before the Lord and lay our crowns before Him, may we be able to say, "Not in our own strength have we been faithful, but in the faithfulness of the God who not only gives the faith through which we believe but keeps that faith alive." Amen.

You can reach Greg Wright by e-mail at

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