Hope in Grief – Guest Post by Jessica Brodie

Have you ever experienced a time of loss and sadness that is simultaneously also filled with deep joy? That was our family this week as we journeyed to Ohio to celebrate the life and mourn the passing of my husband’s grandfather.

Grandpa Bob was 95 when he died, and what a man! A World War 2 Navy veteran who enlisted at age 17 and saw significant action—including the Battle of Iwo Jima, the Okinawa Invasion, and Operation Crossroads for the Bikini Atoll nuclear bomb tests—he also served in the Korean Conflict on the USS Wisconsin. After his discharge, he spent his career in Ohio’s oil and gas drilling operations. He had three kids, then remarried and gained three stepkids, and at his death claimed 12 grandkids (plus spouses) and 15 great-grandkids, all who loved him dearly.

Matt and I and our four kids road-tripped from South Carolina last week for the funeral, joined by parents and a host of other cousins, aunts, and uncles, all of us surrounding Grandma Mary, his wife. At age 98, she and Grandpa Bob still lived in their house. Together, we mourned his death but celebrated his life with deep and affirming joy.

Why joy? See, in addition to being an outstanding person and family man, Grandpa Bob’s most important role was “child of God.” A Christian and active member of his local United Methodist church, one thing we all knew when Grandpa Bob passed on was that we didn’t need to wonder or worry what would become of him. We knew, because he was a follower of Jesus, that he was assured eternal life.

Yes, there were tears at his funeral. We miss him! But there was also… laughter. Giggles. Jokes. His eulogies at the service—delivered by his pastor, one of his sons, and his stepson—recounted stories about mishaps with dynamite and catching himself on fire, his love for John Wayne and gardening, and his silliness rolling around on the ground with puppy dogs or playing at Cedar Point.

“Loyal, faithful, and hardworking,” are how his pastor, Jim, described him. “Disciplined but always fair,” his son, Uncle RJ, said.

A man of stories, said everyone.

That’s how I, a latecomer blessed to marry into this family, knew him. Grandpa Bob was an outstanding storyteller. I remember how we’d visit and he’d tell about standing on the deck of his ship in WW2, or about riding horses, another of his loves.

Uncle RJ shared how he had the opportunity these last years to spend at least two mornings a week having long coffee chats with his dad, listening to old tales told and retold, sometimes the same story twice in one day. What always struck RJ was the joy with which he told those stories. That’s what I had loved, too… and, come to think of it, is what always makes an extraordinary storyteller. It’s the love of the tale.

Grandpa Bob had that. He shared that. And oh, what a legacy.

A couple of the grandkids were not able to attend the funeral, and during the service, Uncle Warren shared a special memory one of his own sons had about Grandpa Bob. During their last visit, they’d sat on the porch together talking about the future, and Grandpa Bob passed on some sage advice to him: “We are ultimately measured as men by how we react to uncontrollable things.”

Wise, wise words from a good, good man.

As Pastor Jim said at the funeral, an eternal perspective in this life keeps us in balance. As believers in Christ Jesus, we know infinitely more awaits us in heaven. The casket is not our end.

Each of us who believe can hold fast to the promises of Scripture, promises like 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14: “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him” (NIV)*.

It’s not that we do not grieve, but that we don’t grieve as others.

Our grief is rooted in hope, in joy, in promise.

We will be together again one day—thanks be to God.

Rest in peace, Grandpa Bob. We love you dearly.

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Get to Know Jessica Brodie

Jessica's author headshot

Jessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian novelist, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach and the recipient of the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for her novel, The Memory Garden. She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism, and part of the team at Wholly Loved Ministries. Learn more about her fiction and read her faith blog at http://jessicabrodie.com

Before you go, make sure to catch the latest Faith Over Fear podcast episode:

Breaking Body Image Shame With Rachael Gilbert Faith Over Fear

Do all the parties, cookie exchanges, and holiday meals this time of year prick your insecurities and create anxiety? Do you find yourself simultaneously enjoying home-baked treats and calculating how many hours at the gym each bite will cost? More importantly, do you ever long for the day when you don't stress about your body? In our photo-shopped, filtered, social media culture, is that even possible? Faith Over Fear guest Rachael Gilbert, author of Image Restored, says yes and shares her inside out approach to learning to feel comfortable in our skin, whatever shape it encompasses.  (Scroll down for discussion/reflective questions.) Resource Mentioned: Image Restored: Tear Down Shame and Insecurity to Experience a Body Image Renovation.  Connect with Rachael Gilbert: On her website On Instagram On Facebook On her Amazon Author Page Find Jennifer Slattery: On her website Instagram Facebook Amazon Find Wholly Loved: On their website Join the private Faith Over Fear Facebook Group  Join the Private Wholly Loved Community Facebook Group Discussion/Reflective Questions: What resonated with you most in this episode? What body image messages have you absorbed from your social circle? What body image messages have you received from generations before you? How often do you put your thoughts "on trial"? How often do you check your negative thinking against the truth of Scripture? In what ways might a negative body image be impacting your relationships How might your life change were you to feel confident in your skin? What is one action step God might be asking you to take, having listened to this episode? Discover more Christian podcasts at lifeaudio.com and inquire about advertising opportunities at lifeaudio.com/contact-us.
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  3. Strength to Thrive Despite Opposition
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