Surviving the loss of a loved one

Hebrews 9:27 (the Message) says, “Everyone has to die once, then face the consequences.” 

A correct view of death. We need to look at the Scriptures and see why death occurs and what happens after death. So many people are in the dark about what happens at death.

When I say a “correct” view of death I am talking about a biblical view of death. What does the scriptures say to us about why people die? There are a lot of different views about death and what happens when we die. What does the Scriptures teach us about death?

We were made to live forever in perfect fellowship with our Creator. God made Adam and put him in this seemingly perfect environment. But Adam had some boundaries. Boundaries are a good thing. Boundaries keep us in check and help us maintain our relationship with God. A boundary God put in the Garden was this—“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the free of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” Genesis 2:16-17

Death became a consequence of disobedience. “The wages of sin is death…” Romans 6:23
“For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” 1Corinthians 15:21-22 Death is a blessed release from an imperfect world for the Christian 1Corinthians 15:12-26.

For those of us who hope in Christ we look forward to death in the sense that we know what is on the other side of death. It is not a mystery to us. God has made it clear. Jesus has prepared a place for us. Our hope is secure in him because Christ died for our sins. He has defeated death! I’m telling you—one minute in heaven—you’ll not want to come back. You won’t want to settle for anything else.

For those who do not hope in Christ the thought of death is a gloomy reality. The thought of nothing beyond what we see here can be scary. Some would say that Christianity is just a crutch…it is something that is nice to believe in. But how can we be so certain that what is on the other side of this life is perfect peace? Christ’s resurrection is a guarantee! It is not just a religious belief. It is a historical fact that Jesus rose from the dead. And according to the Scriptures if Christ had not rose from the dead then our preaching about it is useless!

Christians have great hope when they die. But that doesn’t mean death is not painful. It does not mean we aren’t to miss the person who has passed and have a hard time with it. For many, we are wrongfully taught that grief and mourning is a sign of weakness. The Bible says otherwise. That’s why another thing you need as you live through the passing of a loved one is 

A grasp of the grief process. “What is grief? Grief is an important, normal response to the loss of any significant object or person. It is an experience of deprivation and anxiety which can show itself physically, emotionally, cognitively, socially and spiritually.” (Psychologist Gary R. Collins)

Any loss can bring about grief. Let’s face it, life is full of losses. While it is common to think of loss and grief only in connection with death, life itself is full of losses that must be acknowledged and grieved. At many of life’s changes and transitions, people experience loss and need to use the grieving process to deal with the experience.

“Christ has demonstrated the importance of grieving. In his Sermon on the Mount he said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4 Even Jesus grieved. Jesus knew that Lazarus was about to be raised from the dead, but the Lord still grieved (John 11). He also withdrew and grieved when he learned that John the Baptist had been executed (Matthew 14:12-21). Grief, as well as death, is a natural and inescapable part of the human experience.” (Josh McDowell’s Handbook on Counseling Youth, p. 96-97). The widely acclaimed work of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross has chronicled the five stages of grief:

• Denial
• Anger
• Bargaining
• Depression
• Acceptance

The amount of time it takes a person to grieve varies. It could be months it could take longer than that. The goal of the grieving process is to get you to the point where you accept the loss and move on. Move on in the sense that you never forget the person but that you don’t allow it to paralyze you. If you find yourself in a situation where you are in a constant state of depression. You are hopeless and chronically depressed you need to get some professional help. It is going to take more than a sermon to facilitate the healing you need. Don’t put it off. God doesn’t want you to live the rest of your life that way.

I think another thing you need to “survive” the death of a loved one is the right circle of people around you. Did you know the Bible teaches us to, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn.” Romans 12:15 

A part of the responsibility we have as believers is that we mourn with one another. This is another reason why we are to surround ourselves with godly people. This is another reason why we need to be a part of the church. A great example of this is found in Job 2:11-13. Jobs friends who are eventually criticized for their later conversations with Job leave their homes and come and sit with Job.

“When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.”

When we experience loss we don’t need someone to come up to us and say, “Hold your chin up” or “Be brave.” That’s the last thing we want to hear. Sometimes we need to just show up and say, “look I don’t know what you are going through and I don’t know what to say, but I am here and I love you and we’ll walk with you through this. 

If you were to lose someone very close to you, do you have a network of people, godly people who will grieve with you, support you, affirm you, listen to you, and help direct you? If not, let me encourage you to find a group of people to become that for you. The greatest place I know for you to find that is in a Lifegroup.

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