The Grief of Death
Grief is a natural consequence of having a loved one die.
This week I received a phone call from a dear friend and with a broken voice of sadness she shared the painful loss of her father's death and passing into heaven. This wonderful and very spiritual follower of Jesus was now face to face with this huge loss and pain.
She is struggling about how to deal with grief and still go on with life, happiness and a job. I will never forget her words to me as she asked the question, “Do you think I will ever be complete again?'
I answered, “Yes' “The pain and loss will never leave but you will learn how to move forward and God will lead you on in life to know love and peace and happiness.'
One of the simple clear facts of life is that there is death. As sure as you were born it is that certain that you will die. That is true for me as well as for you. Sometimes we can cope with the fact of our coming death but it is often more difficult to deal with the death of a friend or family member. The sadness is almost overwhelming as we realize we will never again on this earth see them again in person or hear their voice or touch their flesh again this side of heaven. The loss of intimate contact or the knowledge that they are no longer here is almost unreal.
The fact that someone we love dies leaves us with the feeling that there are things that we cannot control. This is true. We feel helpless. Tears and pain turns to grief.
How we handle grief decides how we will live the remainder of our lives.
Some let grief grow into bitterness and even hate. One may be bitter at God or some person that somehow might have caused the death or simply one can become bitter and hateful of life itself.
Or we face the fact of death and find inspiration or strength in that person's life and memory and go forward to face the future with renewed strength and vision. Often in history a person or many people have found profound strength in the death of a person that motivates them to even higher values and service. The horrible assassinations of President John Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King moved and motivated millions of people around the world. That is why it is that the death of a martyr will inspire a revolution.
The passing of my father and mother have both been profound influences in my life. I have wiped many a tear along the roads of the world and faced the tough times drawing strength and love from their memories. My dearest friend Jim McPheeters was killed back in the 70's. I wept for days on the road but found the strength to press forward carrying the cross in the jungles and battlefields. The news of a dear friend dying reached me on the roads of India and for days I preached and wept and walked as the sweat mixed with the tears but I went on and on and on knowing I would see my friend again one day. I know as I stand by the bedsides of the dying and hear the music and see loved ones bodies lowered into the grave that for some purpose and reason Jesus has chosen for me to live on. His mission for me is not complete and I find a fresh commitment to go on in the face of pain or suffering or hurting or loss and see in the Face of Jesus the reason I am still here and praise Him in spite of the fact I grieve.
As a matter of fact the older you get, the more grief one carries for so many have gone on before you. The reason we are not crying all the time is we have learned to carry the loss and grief well. It's there but just unseen.
Jesus wept at the news of Lazarus' death and called for Peter, James and John to be near Him as He struggled with life and death and the cross in the Garden of Gethsemane.
The Bible is full of weeping and grief at the death of many a saint of God. But the story goes on beyond death to the life's left behind.
One cannot let the passing of your mother destroy the lives of her grandchildren.
However painful it may be but at your next funeral just observe the little children playing around the house. You see life goes on! The life and influence of our life does not end at death. What we have sown in others will yet reap a harvest. The wonderful good things that my mother and dad put in me still flow out in me to the world and to my children and grandchildren.
In your grief think how your loved one would want you to remember them and how would they want you to live? What did they tell you?
As for me I want my family to celebrate my life. Just last week Denise and I updated our wills and wishes concerning our death. This is very important to have on paper your wishes but property, etc but also how you want your family to conduct your funeral or memorial service, where to be buried and how and what you want your loved ones to do.
I pray my instructions will be a blessing to those remaining and that my wife and children and grandchildren and close friends will be encouraged to follow the will and call of Jesus and seek to reach this world for Jesus. I pray my passing will be an empowering to those left. Sure there will be hurt and grief and tears but I pray I will leave smiles and courage and love and a sense of purpose and mission. I pray that I leave those behind with the inspiration to go further and reach higher and be more radical and more loving and to 'get it right' better than I have. You see as I am speaking of me I pray it helps you to consider what your loved one desired for you.
My mother and dad did not want me to stop serving God and ministering Jesus to others because they went to heaven. They wanted me to go on. To stop or fail would be the worse thing I could do in their memory.
Yes, grieve but in Jesus you will find the strength to smile and love and life and go on. I know, I've done it and you will make it to.
Just let the tears flow and go out and find someone hurting worse than you and start loving them and helping them in their suffering and soon you will find a purpose and mission for your life greater than you have ever known. Let the memory of your loved one lift you even higher. Let it be a stepping stone instead of a stumbling block.
So to my dear friend, Jesus will be with you Monday as you go back to work and do that job. Let the love your father had for you inspire you and keep your mind sharp and your heart open to love and beyond all this consider the following scripture.
Therefore we also,
since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us,
and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of faith,
who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame,
and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself,
lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.
Read this passage above again then read the following:
For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,
according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed,
but with all boldness, as always,
so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.
For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor;
yet what I shall choose I cannot tell.
For I am hard pressed between the two,
having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.
Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.
And being confident of this,
I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith,
that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.
Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit,
with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,
and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition,
but to you of salvation, and that from God.
For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him,
but also to suffer for His sake,
having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.
1 Corinthians 15:50-58
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God;
nor does corruption inherit incorruption.
Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed--
in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.
For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
So when this corruptible has put on incorruption,
and this mortal has put on immortality,
then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written:
"Death is swallowed up in victory."
"O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?"
The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God,
who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brethren,
be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,
knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
Pilgrim followers of Jesus,
Arthur and Denise Blessitt