If you're grieving for a friend

. . . it's good to be strong. To show serenity and strength in the face of such news is a great help to others as well as to yourself. Lack of tears is not a sign of hardness. It can indicate a higher sense of compassion that refuses to contribute to the atmosphere of sadness and instead strives to gain a deeper understanding of life.

There is a very good reason why you don't have to be sad. For one thing, neither you nor your friend can ever for one moment be outside the love and care of God. The Psalmist sang, ''Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.'' n1

n1 Psalms 23:4.

All life is God-given, for God Himself is Life. Man, His immortal offspring, is the eternal emanation of Life. Man's actual selfhood is spiritual, not confined to a material body. He has an indestructible existence as the image of God, undying Spirit. Those who are no longer with us nevertheless have a tangible, conscious sense of identity just as we do. Man's being can never fade away or become an abstraction.

Jesus proved that death does not bring an end to life. He restored a little girl who had died. He resuscitated Lazarus, who had been entombed for several days, and he reappeared to his disciples alive and well, despite the crucifixion.

So there is more than just a hope that life is eternal. Infinite life is expressed right now, although this isn't apparent to a strictly material view of life - the view reported by the physical senses. With the acceptance of the truth of man's immortal, indestructible life comes the comfort that strengthens us and enables us to comfort others.

The qualities of goodness can never be extinguished. They are expressed throughout eternity and are the true substance of man's being. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: ''Man is deathless, spiritual. He is above sin or frailty. He does not cross the barriers of time into the vast forever of Life, but he coexists with God and the universe.'' n2

n2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 266.

But what of ourselves? Of the aching void when we lose the companionship of someone dear? I once lost a friend whom I had looked to for guidance as well as friendship. I had known him for many years, and his passing seemed to leave me very much lacking in all the things he meant to me. I grieved for a long time.

Then one day I met someone who expressed many of the attributes of my friend. Suddenly I saw that I could never be deprived of that wonderful joy, companionship, and wisdom, because they were God-given. And being God-given, they were constantly being expressed. Yes, by my friend at that moment, although I could not be with him, and also by each and every individual in distinctive ways.

Man, as God's spiritual offspring, can never be sad, because he reflects the joy God is eternally pouring forth on all His creation. Man cannot be lonely, because in his reflection of God he is forever complete. Man can never lack love , for God is Love itself, and His love is with man, sustaining and enfolding him. As these spiritual truths are seen and rejoiced in, our experience will become brighter and the sense of sadness and loss will disappear.

Life is indestructible, eternal. God is with you and your friend. Each of you is enfolded in His love. Rejoice that this is a time of strengthening and growth for your friend, and it will be an opportunity for progress and learning for you too. DAILY BIBLE VERSE The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23

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