Comfort For The Grieving
Recently my thoughts have been sobered by the death of an acquaintance. We hear about death often on the news, but it is not until it comes close to home that we stop and soberly ponder the subject. As my saddened heart reflected on the subject, I remembered a sermon I preached several years ago from Genesis 23:1-2. The verses read, “And Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah. And Sarah died in Kirjatharba: the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.” As I reflected on the message I preached from these verses, they comforted my heart. If you will take a few minutes to reflect on it as well, I believe it will comfort your heart as it did mine.
Death is Unavoidable
Sarah was a godly woman. She is the only woman in the Bible to have her age at death recorded. God praises her in 1 Peter 3:6 for her obedient example as a wife. Again God praised her as a woman of faith in Hebrews 11:11. Yet at 127, she died. Even for such a godly woman, death was unavoidable. There are two questions that surface as we think on this.
What is death? Man is a three-part being. Our bodies are material and our souls and spirits are immaterial. Death occurs when our immaterial soul and spirit leave our material body.
Why is death unavoidable? Why can’t we avoid it? Since the moment Adam and Eve sinned, the death process has been in action. They instantly died spiritually and instantly began to die physically. (Romans 5:12) “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” Death is the divine judgment of wilful disobedience. (Hebrews 9:27) “And as it is appointed unto men once to die”
Mourning is Natural
When Sarah died, her husband Abraham mourned and wept. His mourning and weeping were proper and becoming, intense and sincere, limited and restrained.
We ought not deny that death brings sorrow. It does. Its pain is real. Its loss is genuine. Even Jesus experienced this as his cousin John the Baptist died and as He himself prepared for death. From these events in Christ’s life, we find six practical lessons on how to cope with the pain of death.
- Spend time alone (Matthew 14:13,23). After John’s death, Jesus sought to be alone to pray. Use this time to reflect on the lost loved one’s life as well as our own (past – present – future). Ask yourself questions like, “What if it had been me?” “Would I have been ready?” “What am I doing with my life for God?” “Am I distinguishing between the important and trivial?” (Psalms 90:12) “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”
- Don’t be afraid to show emotion. Abraham wept for Sarah and Jesus wept when Lazarus died (John 11:35). “Broken bones take time to heal and broken hearts take even longer.” As Christians, our sorrow need not be as painful as for the unsaved. (1 Thessalonians 4:13) “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.” The loss of a believing loved one is not hopeless as he is absent from the body and present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).
- Remember that sorrow is only temporary. (Psalms 30:5) “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” God will resurrect true Christians. One day He will wipe away all tears (Revelation 21:4).
- Share your sorrow with a friend. In Matthew 26:37, Jesus spent his sorrowful hours with his friends. True friends will quietly comfort you. Pour your heart out to them. (Romans 12:15) “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.”
- Accept death as God’s will (John 3:16). Christ’s death was God’s will. God makes no mistakes.
- Resume a normal schedule as soon as possible (Matthew 14:14). Jesus did not spend prolonged time mourning, but turned his attention to the needs of others.
Preparation Is Invaluable
Though death is unavoidable and mourning is natural, we need not fear death if we are prepared. To help us prepare for death, we must understand two Bible facts.
Death is not the end, but the door to eternity. We all will live eternally in one of two places – heaven or hell. There is no exception. Jesus described death as passing through a gate. The wide gate opened into destruction and the narrow gate to everlasting life (Matthew 7:13-14; see also Luke 16:19-31). Hebrews 9:27 tells us, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” Death seals our destiny. Those without Christ will be condemned (Revelation 20:15).
Death is no respecter of persons and could call you today. We all know this to be true, but somehow we think we’ll be an exception. RIGHT NOW is the best time for you to prepare for death.
If you will admit you are a sinner, believe that Christ died for you, and ask Him to save you and make you His child, He will (John 20:31). “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”