And I mean permanent in the sense that when we lose a loved one here on earth, the joys we share with them can now only be memories.
For we believers, it is true that we will share joys anew around the throne-room of God when we gather on the other shore. We will in fact again see our brothers and sisters in Christ.
But the loss of a family member or friend here on this shore is, well, such a pang to the heart that the pain is simply hard to describe. And it is not just one pang... but many. They grow less frequent with time, but by experience we all know they still come.
Is the word "pang" the right word to describe it?
My father has been gone for over 16 years. Others too... my uncle, my aunt, my grandparents.
The pangs still come.
What's been your experience?
"But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope."
-- 1 Thess. 4:13
But we still grieve. And I would assert... it is not as others... but more deeply and affectionately. At least, we should.
-- John 11:35
In fewer than 11 weeks, my dear wife has lost two cherished grandfathers, our oldest daughter has lost her precious grandfather (her biological dad's father), and our beloved cousin Danny was called home after a nearly 2-year bout with brain cancer. Our hearts mourn the losses, and we pray for comfort and peace for families back home.
As an aside, living in Germany has had its challenges. To grieve the deaths of loved ones without the loving comfort provided by extended family is not one of the challenges we foresaw. And likewise, we yearn to provide some measure of loving comfort to those grieving most... but yet, we cannot in ways we'd wish. This adds another dimension to our grief.
A pastor... who knew all too well the grieving that takes place when someone dear to us dies, for he had lost his wife shortly after she had given birth to their fourth child... wrote these words later in a letter:
"Tears are proper for believers. Indeed, they should be all the more copious. For Christians are more sensitively aware of every emotion, whether of joy or of sorrow, than those who have known nothing of the softening and enlivening grace of God."