I have written this article with the hope that it may minister comfort to those who maybe grieving at a loved one’s passing.
When my wife lost her mom she was probably the closest person to her on the earth, I really wondered if I would have been able to comfort her during this time. (Now my wife’s mom was indeed in Christ – everything I state here is in light of that.) However my wife received supernatural comfort from God and did not descend into deep sorrow or grief. I believe several things helped her. This verse helped:
“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.” – 1 Thes 4:13 – my wife obeyed Paul’s instructions.
The word for grief here is the Greek word – lupeo – it speaks of distress or deep sorrow.
Paul was stating that the way the world grieves and our response in Christ is to be different. During this time my wife responded to grief as something to actually resist and even rebuke. The stronger our faith in the Gospel the more spiritual our response would be to a loved one’s passing. For example:
People will meet you and say, “so your mom died?!”
The Believer’s response – “Nope she did not, Jesus said whosoever believes in Him will never die.” Jesus would normally use the word “sleep” – Lazarus sleepeth – there is faith in that word – “sleep”.
People will say, “sorry for your loss…”
The Believer’s response – “I lost nothing!” – the grief of the world is rooted in loss with no hope – a permanent loss (this is my faith). This is to be resist or even cast out if it becomes rooted in a person’s heart.
The Ultimate Grief – Loosing Jesus
“Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am. ” – John 14:28
Jesus was going away and his disciples got sad, how did Jesus respond to their sorrow? This is probably the most spiritual response to the passing of a loved one in Christ…….if you really loved me, you would be happy. Hey, this is Jesus not me, Jesus questioned their love and faith – hey guys “I am coming back!” and “if you love me”. – Yes Jesus, we love you and we will miss you because we love you and we love ourselves.
Jesus understands – He Himself wept even though Lazarus was about to be raised.
Now it is hard for me to explain this and certainly when someone is grieving it may not be the appropriate time. Love demands we weep with those that weep but it is the truth that brings freedom and we experience Christ. However, Jesus was explaining that worldly sorrow is rooted in self-love or even selfishness. As a pastor, I find the people cry the most when the person is being buried or burnt. At the moment, the sense of loss is magnified and the person begins to experience intense emotions. My wife had a closed casket with her mom and she said no good-byes to a body – that was her faith.
I apologize to anyone reading this who now fully believes that I am insensitive. This is not my intention, it is my confidence that the power of the Gospel can bring a Heavenly experience to those in grief.
So a man came to Jesus and said – I will follow you but first let me return home and go bury my father. This indeed is a natural response but Jesus was a spiritual man having a natural experience. Jesus responded – “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” Wow! – this seems as insensitive as it gets – may the Lord give us the grace to understand and experience the power of Jesus’ words.
By the time they took to bury a dead body, Jesus would have led a few hundred people into eternal life.
Grief for many cripples them and can displace them from the calling of God on their lives. Should not Jesus give this man some time to grieve? Wasn’t his request understandable? Shouldn’t this man be able to put in for bereavement leave? Did our Lord have unfair expectations?
I have found that the answers to all life’s questions are found in the Gospel – the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.
So a loved one (in Christ) has passed or even finished their race, what is a Gospel inspired, Christ-centered, spiritual response?
- Happiness and joy – they are with Jesus! – to the degree we believe, we will naturally experience corresponding emotions.
- Sorrow – a sorrow that is rooted in self love that has NO death or loss. We simply miss them and would like to chat and touch a while. Nothing is wrong with self-love, we must love ourselves to love others.
It is not time that heals grief, in fact time can even make it worse.
It is the power of the Gospel that makes joy come in the morning.
It is to be noted that self-love quickly becomes selfishness when it is exalted as the greatest good. The grief of the world is rooted in selfishness and can be experienced by all classes regardless of true benevolence. For example: Even the worst criminals experience worldly grief. Satan can even use worldly grief and unbelief in the Gospel to further his ambitions where believers accuse God and His character.
Recently, a friend passed, together we rocked out Petit Valley – the deaf heard (literally) and many gave their lives to Christ.
Well he passed and I had to do the funeral – (you know was looking for a demon to beat!). Well the Sunday after, I had to pray with an 84 year old man who was at death’s door with the same condition. Sorrow had set-in in the home, the sickness had gripped this man, he lost his voice and was passing. Now this man did not know Jesus (cause for grief), so I led him to Christ and he nodded as he couldn’t speak. So we prayed for his healing and with spiritual anger we prophesied, “When we leave he shall speak, you guys chat and have a good time together!” Well we left and it wasn’t a short time after he spoke! They chatting about the good old days – the family sent us pictures, they were laughing together and he passed one week later.
The power of the Gospel is the only true answer for grief. I just thought I would share this hoping it would be a blessing to someone and for those that cannot hear it – it is ok, i understand. The Lord comfort and give His grace to all that are experiencing grief. Blessings