Reflections on the Death of my Friends
My prayer is that we would receive God’s comfort, care, and love while we mourn. Praise our Heavenly Father that through Jesus, He offers us eternal life. What more could we ever ask for? What an incredible blessing! At the same time, my prayer is that each one of us would not waste the moment either. Rather, we would do self-inventory to respond wisely even in the midst of our deep suffering, sadness, and sorrow.
Over the past few weeks, an entire handful of friends and past students have died. All of them my age or younger. All of them followers of Jesus. As I have worked through each of these deaths – some I have mentioned before here and here, I have been tracking some thoughts that have been helpful to me. Over the past few days, I have been writing and thinking. Today, I want to share some of these to perhaps help you as well. Many of you readers have been impacted by these same deaths.
We Grieve with Hope
One of the great blessings that we as followers of Jesus Christ enjoy together is our hope. Paul explains:
But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thess 4:13-18).
Oh yes, we grieve; however, we grieve with hope. The world grieves with ignorance. They may hope and believe many things about the afterlife, but at the end of the day, they truly have no real hope. But, not us! We grieve with hope. Our grieving is based upon the Word of God, God’s covenant faithfulness, and trust in God’s love.
Our loved one who has gone to heaven to be with the Lord is more alive than ever. Paul also wrote, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” (2 Cor 5:8). Immediately. No purgatory. No delay. Those who have a personal relationship with Jesus immediately go to be with Him in heaven.
What if our loved one inconsistently followed Jesus at best? There’s good news for us there too. We do not go to heaven based upon our faithfulness to Him; we go to heaven based upon God’s faithfulness to us (1 Pet 1:3-5). Consider the Apostle Peter’s words:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Pet 1:3-5, emphasis mine)
Thankfully, if we have followed Jesus, going to heaven does not depend upon our faithfulness, it depends upon the faithfulness of God.
We are Better in a Funeral Home than at a Party
The Bible teaches that we are better off in a funeral home than at a party. In King Solomon’s wisdom, he wrote:
Better to go to the house of mourning
Than to go to the house of feasting,
For that is the end of all men….