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Grief and Gratitude

But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed. Isaiah 53:5 NRSV


My earliest childhood memory of a funeral was of my cousin Rickey, who was killed in Quang Tri Province of South Vietnam on April 26, 1967. Years later, when Janice and I visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, we found his name listed among the 58,300 names (Panel 18F, Line 98). Seeing those names inscribed on the two immense panels of black granite is very sobering. Many of us have lost family members to wars–not all memorialized on a wall, but their memories are indelibly inscribed on our hearts. We recall their lives and sacrifices for our country with grief and gratitude.


Today's verse prophetically predicts the sacrifice of another–Jesus Christ, whose gift was not for one country but for all of humanity. The text reveals God's incredible lengths to restore our relationship with Him. Here are some things for us to consider when meditating on this text.


Jesus, God made flesh, was wounded for our transgressions; sinless, he became our sin-bearer. It is God Himself who came to heal a rift that humankind had created. Our rebellion against God caused the trouble, and Christ, in His mercy, was wounded to remedy the problem. During his crucifixion, his hands, feet, side, and head were pierced–for you and me. 


Jesus' death was vicarious—He died for us sinners. He received the penalty our sins deserved, and we received the blessings His righteousness had earned. "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21)


"By his bruises we are healed" points to spiritual and physical healing. Spiritually, Jesus' sacrifice brings reconciliation with God; physically, His wounds provide healing—whether emotional, physical, or relational.


As believers, we reflect on Jesus' sacrifice with grief and gratitude. In grief, we identify with His suffering, deep compassion, and acknowledgment of our need. In appreciation, we thank Him for taking our place for His divine love and the wholeness and restoration He offers. Not to be lost is the personal connection. While Jesus did this for the whole world, He did it for each of us individually. His sacrifice extends beyond our earthly lives to eternal healing and reconciliation with God.


Heavenly Father,


In the quiet chambers of our hearts, we come before You—our refuge and strength. We lift our grief, heavy as stones, and lay it at Your feet.


We mourn the weight of our transgressions—the fractures in our souls, the choices that wounded us and others. We remember the stripes upon Your Son's back—the lashes that tore through flesh, the blood that flowed for our sake. Our tears fall like rain, for Jesus' pain was our pain. We grieve the cross—the cruel instrument of love.


Yet, oh Lord, our grief intertwines with gratitude. For in Jesus' wounds, we find redemption. We thank You for the indelible marks—the scars etched into eternity. They remind us of love's cost. By His bruises, we are healed. The brokenness within us meets the mending touch of grace.


We pause to remember our loved ones who served and whose names may be etched on earthly memorials. We honor their courage and indomitable spirit. 


Sovereign God, as we navigate grief's labyrinth, help us find the path of gratitude. May our tears water seeds of hope that only you can bring.


In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.


Blessings,

Pastor Tim




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