Grief: Can anything be more shocking (12)

Grief: Can Anything be more shocking? (12)

 Can there really be anything more shocking than the death of a loved one? The death of those we care about can shock us to the core and really is one of life’s hardest events to go through.  When someone we loves dies suddenly we didn’t even get a moment with them to tell them how much they meant to us, but even when we know someone is going to die through sickness or whatever…we will still grieve them. 

We can’t even begin to bring our self to grips with all the emotions that are reeling in our minds right now. What just happened? Why did it happen? What could we have done differently to have prevented it from happening? What were the last things we said to each other? Could I have seen this happening? Reality is just that…reality! We don’t want it and we want it to go away and we want it to away now.  We want to find out that this is just a nightmare and we will wake up and everything will be okay.  Only things is we find out it is real. 

What did we talk about last, where did we go? Then we realize that there will be no more time together, no more birthdays, no more holidays, no more of what we enjoyed together and wham…it hits us.  We have lost someone that means the world to us and what will we do without them? We remember the songs they liked, what they liked to play, how the smelled, what they wore, and a million other things which bring us to the reality all over again that we are not going to see them this side of heaven again.  We would do anything to hear their voice again and just hold them, but life has thrown us a major curve ball and we just got hit in the face with it.

We have good memories and sometimes bad ones as well.  We might look around our house and need to put out more pictures (if we have them) of the one we lost, or we might take down all the pictures for awhile because we can’t deal with seeing them.  Both are okay people.  They don’t mean you don’t love the person.  It is normal!  We go through this pain trying to make some kind of sense out of what actually doesn’t make sense at all.  We might even feel like we are in a deep dark hole somewhere and or are out at sea going down for the last time.  Normal feelings! Death is dark and final this side of heaven and we don’t always deal well with it. We don’t want to deal with death especially of those we love and will miss.  It shows us also that at some point in time we will also go the way of death so it reminds us of how temporary our life really is.

You might be very angry at God even because you somehow think that God should have saved your loved one.  I felt that way and I know others do as well. God is big enough to handle what we feel, but He did not need your love one to go and be, as some say, an angel.  God loves His children and would you want your child to suffer and die?  We live in a fallen world that Adam and Eve turned over to the devil by their actions.  The devil loves to destroy and kill.  Yes, God can, if He wills, to intervene, and He can heal people it is His will, but we don’t know why one is taken and one is not.  Maybe God will give us the answer someday He is God and can do whatever God wants to do.  We live in a fallen world and people can be mean and hateful in it.  Mankind has fallen to a new low level in how they treat each other.  Because we do live in a fallen world God placed a timetable for His return.  We know the time is near because of what is going on in the world, but we can’t know the day or hour…that is up to God.  In the meantime we will all die at some point if Jesus has not returned for His bride: the Church.  In the heart of this bewildering and tough time, you need to remember the Bible. God will use His word to help you understand what you are experiencing and to give you ways in which to handle your emotions.

No one can really prepare for the death of a loved one.  How can you.  They still have air in their lungs and you love them.  I used to work as a chaplain at a local hospital.  I could not do the work on the children’s wing where they had the children who had cancer and other illnesses that you know they will die soon.  To see their little faces and know how their parents were hurting and crying out broke my heart.  One day one of the moms of a little child who was dying was taking him around the hospital in a wheel chair.  We were on the elevator alone and the mom had tears in her eyes.  The little boy took her hand and told her not to cry that he had met Jesus and was going to go with him soon.  Oh my gosh…I almost died right on the spot.  This little one knew where he was going, tried to comfort his mom, and brought a humbleness to my soul. 

Dealing with the children’s ward takes a very special person.  I knew God had not called me there to be a chaplain because I would break down with every person in there.  I am so thankful that there are so many who can and want to do this ward at the hospitals.  It was to hard on me losing my child.  It did, however, show me how Jesus uses even the little ones to comfort their own parents when all the parent wants to do is comfort their child.

How do you prepare for death? What can you possibly tell yourself ahead of time?  Death, no matter the cause, still catches us off guard and we still must deal with it. If someone is older or knows that they are going to die and has last wishes we do all we can to help them with that.  Sometimes they need to talk about their death but family doesn’t want to talk about it.  They miss out on a lot by not allowing the person to talk about their life and death and desires.  We can learn a lot by listening!!! At the same time even if you know someone is going to die ahead of time…it will still hit you and you will still have to, at some point, deal with it.

The Bible can give you comfort if you let it.  There are stories of life and death and going on.  There are stories that give comfort if your search them out.  Even the story of King David and his son Absalom who tried to kill his dad can show us great things.  I think most people out there would exchange places with their child that is suffering if they could.  The thing is that we are all given a certain amount of time on earth.  Some short and some long.  What we do with whatever time we do have should matter.  Use your time wisely on this earth. David’s cry  to God is the cry of every grieving parent. No matter how unforeseen or predictable, death shakes us to the very center of our soul. The pain is unavoidable and bound to happen. Don’t feel at fault or mortified if you feel unprepared to face it. There’s no way to be ready for what you are going through.

God’s original plan was not death of His childrenOne reason death is so hard to accept and understand is that it’s completely out of step with the life God planned for this world. The apostle Paul calls death our “enemy” (1 Corinthians 15:25-26). Death is the enemy of everything good and beautiful about life. It is the final chapter of our life on earth.  The good thing is that if we are a Christian we know where we will be going then in eternity.  People without Jesus and/or those that choose to reject Him just don’t really get it.  There are two places one can go and one is with God and the other is not.  Death reminds us that we live in a world that is terribly broken; it’s not functioning according to God’s original design, where life was meant to give way to life, on into eternity. It’s biblical to treat death as sad and unnatural because death was never God’s intention or best for us.  Mankind decided not to follow the rules and because of that we have had to have a taste of death and it will continue until Jesus return.

Death was defeated at the cross.  That does not mean that we don’t die.  God doesn’t intend now for us to go on without grieving either.  We live in a fallen world, our loved ones die…and God encourages us to mourn them.  It is because of what Jesus did on the cross that the death we face is not the final chapter to us.  Those of us who follow the Lord get to spend eternity with Him and we will never suffer again. That is good news.

Death can feel like the ultimate darkness, but just on the other side of that darkness, if one is a Christian, is the light of the world: Jesus and He is the one that takes away the sting of our death.  Now, to those that are still here and dealing with the death of a loved one we are not totally feeling that light because we are hurting…but to those that don’t know Jesus and don’t want to know Him…I can’t even imagine their dark hole for all eternity. People feel all alone with those they love die even when there are many people around.  It is okay and normal. We might feel no one understands our pain and grief and to some point that is correct because every person grieves differently even though they both loved the same person just as much. No matter how alone you might feel…Jesus will walk the walk with you.

Joh 14:14  If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.

Joh 14:15  If you love Me, keep My commandments.

Joh 14:16  And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, so that He may be with you forever,

Joh 14:17  the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive because it does not see Him nor know Him. But you know Him, for He dwells with you and shall be in you.

Joh 14:18  I will not leave you orphans. I will come to you.

Joh 14:19  Yet a little while and the world does not see Me any more. But you see Me. Because I live, you shall live also.

Joh 14:20  At that day you shall know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.

 

Basically these verses tells us that we have a powerful Brother, Savior, Counselor, and Friend who not only stands beside us, but lives within us! His presence makes it impossible for us to be alone in this moment of pain (John 14:15-20).

When tragedy strikes we can’t see good in it.  We hurt and can’t believe that anything good can come the loss of a loved one.  For a time we can’t see or believe this because of the pain in our broken hearts.  To us death seems like a bad thing.  A time when someone we love will go away and we won’t see them or hold them. It feels like the worst of the worst of times, but the Bible tells us also that the evil that is brought upon us in this life by the evil one or even by us doing things we know we should not do…that if we are His child we will overcome it and one instant after death we are in the presence of the Lord…however that works. Most of us don’t want to die because we not only want to live but we don’t want to cause others pain or watch them or have them watch us suffer. 

The death of Jesus Christ is an authoritative manifestation of this truth. On the hill outside the city, the best thing that ever happened came from the worst thing that ever happened. What could be worse than the killing of our Lord and Savior? What could be more unjust than the illegal putting to death of the one and only perfect person who ever lived? In the sermon he preached on the day of Pentecost, Peter said that Jesus’ death was an evil thing done by evil men to the one truly good person in the whole world (Acts 2:22-36).  But this terrible moment was under God’s control. God planned that this ultimate evil would accomplish ultimate good. In this dark moment, as Jesus died on the cross, God defeated sin and death-two enemies we could not defeat on our own. Jesus came into this world as a beautiful little baby to be raised by a certain couple.  I don’t know about you but would you really want to raise “God”?  Can you imagine how Mary felt looking up at the cross and seeing her son being tortured and killed?  Can you imagine her pain at that moment in time?  They didn’t understand what was really going to happen and that Jesus would be raised from the dead…even though Jesus had told them so.  They just saw the injustice, the pain, the suffering, the fear of that day.  One good thing was their grief would not last like ours lasts when our loved ones die.  Their fear turned to joy in three days.  The Savior arose and defeated death and sin for us.  He gave us a way to go to the Father our self and a way to defeat the ills of this world. 

In the same way, God can and does bring wonderful things out of the darkest moments of our lives. Your Lord is present with you in this darkness. He has planned that even the darkest of things would result in redemptive good for His children. He surrendered His Son to death so you could have life. He will not abandon you now.

One day death will be put to death. The death of a loved one should remind you that God’s work is not yet complete. Because of sin, death entered the world. When sin is completely defeated, death will also be defeated. The apostle Paul talks about Christ’s present ministry this way: “For he must reign until he has put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:25-26).

How many just don’t understand what or why Jesus died.  If only they understood that because of what He did  we would no longer have to die. This is hard for some to understand because of right now (until His return) we do physically die for a time.  When He rose from the dead, death was defeated. Until Jesus returns, we still experience death, but one day life will not give way to death. Children will not mourn their parents. Parents will not mourn their children. There will be no widows or grieving friends. Yes, death is an enemy, but this enemy will die at the return of our Lord and Savior: Jesus Christ. The present reign of Christ guarantees this. One day life will give way to life for eternity.

All of us will mourn and grieve someone in our life.  Many of us many people because we have many people that are a spouse, a child, a parent, a relative, a neighbor who was close, a good friend.  We will all have the sting of a death of someone we care about.  And as normal as that is it does not keep us from hurting inside.  As you cry, remember that the One who weeps with you understands your anguish. He is “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). But He does more than understand; He also acts. Jesus will not let death be in power forever. On the cross He conquered death, and His resurrection is your promise that one day, all who believe in Him, will be resurrected to a life.  One day He is coming again to end physical death and to usher in a new heaven and earth where there will be no dying, no tears, and no sorrow (Revelation 21:1-4).

 We must play our part

Grieving leaves you psychologically unpredictable and mentally perplexed. It’s painful in predictable and unforeseen ways. Death can crush all your dreams with the person that died.

At times death brings people together and sometimes it drives them part. (Such as the death of a child or the abduction and death of a child) Death mixes the best and the worst of memories. Because death is so confusing and such a mix of feelings and emotions it is hard to deal with them and at that point we can make a lot of mistakes in our life because we are overwhelmed with sorrow. 

What about your emotions?

Being a Christian does not mean being a fatalist. God doesn’t want you to hide your feelings or wear a happy face mask when you are falling apart on the inside.  He understands your pain and sorrow. He wants you to come to him with complete honesty. In the Psalms, God invites us to bring our honest grief to him. Psalm 34:15 depicts God as a loving father, watching over His children and listening for their cries. Psalms 13, 22, 42, and 73 picture God’s people running to Him in grief and confusion. God even understands your anger towards Him and He wants to help you. Don’t hide your emotions; when you are struggling, run to the One who knows you completely and loves you faithfully. As Peter says, “Cast all your anxieties on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7, NIV)

Jesus is our comfort

When he was suffering, the apostle Paul said an amazing thing about the Lord. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort…” (2 Corinthians 1:3). All real, lasting comfort has its source in the Lord, because He is the Father of compassion and comfort. Think about this. Your heavenly Father is in charge of comfort and compassion. He exercises His loving power on earth so that comfort will be available. Whenever anyone, anytime, anywhere experiences real comfort, it is because God, the source of all true comfort, has made it happen. It is never useless to cry out to Him. He has the power to bring hope and rest to your soul in ways you could never conceive. God, in His grace, has assigned this job to Himself.

Temptations

When we are grieving and mourning we can also have temptations thrown our way.  It is a time that you are vulnerable and the devil/enemy can use this time to tempt you that and tell you that God somehow doesn’t love you or your loved one because if He did He surely wouldn’t allow your loved one to die.  When we are vulnerable sometimes it is much easier to believe a lie than the truth and we don’t even see it coming.  We can get irritated and sour and then have to deal with hurting, grieving, mourning, and temptation. The devil will tempt you in whatever way that you least expect it including being jealous of those that their lives are going along good and yours has just fallen apart.   Don’t think the devil won’t do this because he does.  You do whatever to protect yourself and run to the cross even when bitter and angry because God understands and won’t get mad at your.  Give it all to God and let Him walk the walk with you.

Do you know that death was not to be part of the equation of our life.  When God created the world He didn’t want us to fail and fall.  He wanted us to live.  He also designed us to need each other in this world.  Our life was meant to be a peoples who loved God and who loved others. We need the help of others in our lives to become the people God created us to be (See Ephesians 4:1-16 and 1 Corinthians 13). Grief is a horrible thing to go through but because of the fall we will until which time Jesus returns to take his bride/the church home.  In the meantime we need each other more than ever. 

It is very easy to try to push God aside when you are hurting especially if you believe that somehow God should have saved your loved one.  But we have no idea the plans of God or the why He allows anything.  This side of heaven we might never know.  In the meantime we really do need other Christians around us to help us along our path.  They can help you understand that God still loves you and help you spiritually get through your pain. I know some people think they don’t need anyone around when a loved one dies, but we do need human contact to help comfort us in our time of need. It isn’t always easy to be thankful for anything when we are hurting, but that is the exact time that we need to because there are always things for which to still be thankful. “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).  Think about that verse.  It is not telling you that you will be pleased for what you are going through but what is doing to sustain you through your pain.

When we are hurting we don’t see the entire picture.  There is no earthly way to see it.  We will have times to mourn and grieve along with all the other emotions and feelings going on in us. God can carry us through our pain if we allow Him to. How many people because they are hurting turn away from God instead of to Him?  He is the one with the answers for us yet because we turn away we can find it taking even longer to get back on our feet and going in the right direction.

Right now, if you are the one grieving, you could be a person who is not really thinking about your future or your eternity. You just see your pain and all that you are going through and will go through without the one you love.  Take some time to look into the plan of God.  Look up to Him because He is the Lord and He is the only one with truth and answers to help ease your pain.  He never said that we would not hurt once we became a Christian.  He said that we would face trials and tribulations…and we will.  Look beyond this moment of grief to an eternity with God. When you entered into God’s family, you started a voyage that won’t end until you are with your Lord in eternity. All of these pains we go through here on earth until that glorious day we get to heaven are because we live in a fallen world, and because we do live in a fallen world we will face many things we don’t want to face.

Scripture says that God comforts us, not only to bring rest to our hearts, but also so we can comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:3, 4). If you have experienced God’s comfort in your time of grief, you are uniquely able to understand what a fellow griever is going through to some extent. Just as your grief is unique to you…and the same as the pain others feel take what you learn and share it.  It might be helpful to them and it might not be.  Let them know that before you say anything and don’t expect anyone to take your advice.  Tell them this worked for me and if it helps you…use it: if it something you don’t feel will help you don’t use it.  Don’t push anything onto someone or expect them to do what helped you.  Each has a journey through pain and sorrow and while they might look the same…they are not the same.  Don’t ever guilt them!!! If you have gone through something and can be of help to someone…please do.  They might reject all of it but you will know you tried to help.  Grief can be very emotional to the one going through it and they might not be ready to do whatever you suggested…but you planted a seed that if and when they feel they can use your advice…maybe they will. 

As you face the death of a loved one remember you are not alone. Jesus endured death for you so that even in the face of death you would be able to live with hope, strength, and courage.  When we glorify our Lord even the toughest of circumstances it does not mean that we have to put on this happy and cheerful face.  God knows we hurt.  Christians do grieve and mourn in life-and we should, because death was not part of God’s creative plan. We know that death exists because sin has entered our world. Death should make us angry, but understand this…all of us until Jesus returns will lose loved ones now and then.  It is tough.  God knows we hurt and will mourn others and it is okay.  There is no timetable to our grief.  But I do want you to know this each day you get up do one thing that works towards feeling better.  Paul, in 1 Thessalonians 4:13, captures God’s perspective on our grief, “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.”

But we do not grieve as if we have no hope. We have hope because we trust in the God who made us and the rest of the world.  We know that some day we will live in a place where there will never again be any sickness, sorrow, or death. So our sadness is mixed with rest and our sorrow is painted with hope. This side of heaven you might never understand why someone died and you were left in pain.  Don’t get discouraged in that because somethings we will just not find the answer to.

Permanent comfort is not found in what you know, but Who you know. Genuine comfort comes when you rest in your relationship as the child of God who has promised to never leave you (Joshua 1:5, Heb.13:5). He is faithful to making even the most horrible moments in your life result in good (Romans 8:28-38). And He will give you everything you need to face whatever you come across in this fallen world, even death (2 Peter 1:3).

More to come


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