Grieving the loss of a Christian


joedewittThis past week has been a struggle for many in Northstar and in the New River Valley surrounding the loss of our brother in Christ, Joe DeWitt. Joe was a fifth-year student at Virginia Tech. He was scheduled to be commissioned into the Army soon and was to be married in six months. I had the honor of knowing Joe on a couple of different levels.

First, Joe was a friend of mine, and although I only knew the man for less than a year, he impacted me deeply in the way that he loved others and the way he loved God. Second, Joe was a leader of our youth in ReVerb ministry. Joe was a small group leader of a young guys group. His small group was deeply impacted by his amazing love for them and they are deeply impacted by a loss of a friend.

As I have been trying to grieve the loss of my friend and have been trying to have the right words to say to leaders and students, I have realized that in my own ability, I have not the right words to say. So what do I do? I look to the scripture. There are two passages that I have been leaning into and sharing with others as we walk through this together.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:1-11)

I am confident that Joe had the Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwelling inside of him which brings a hopeful thought that he has been raised to life with Christ!

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. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14)

Although I mourn and many others mourn, we can hold on to the promise in God’s Word that Christ will bring with him those who have fallen asleep to Heaven. Therefore, we mourn with hope as we are informed by the greatness of our God.