We know we're going to die at some point. We know that everyone we know is going to die too. But somehow we manage to live in denial of these two basic facts. Until it actually happens.
What do we do when death walks through our door?
The obvious answer is: we grieve. We start planning a funeral. We scout out cemeteries. We prepare for the burial.
Oftentimes it means wearing a mask as we struggle to hide our bereavement from the world. We disguise the fact that though we may be calm on the outside, a storm rages within.
The Kübler-Ross model suggests that there are five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. And while it's true that we often go through these phases as we learn to cope, I believe that as Christians we should have a different "model".
We are told in Hebrews 12:2 that we should look to Jesus who is the "author and finisher" of our faith. For me, that means He knows what the race looks like because He's done it. He finished the course that was set before Him. He can say with Paul, "I fought a good fight. I finished the race (II Timothy 4:7)."
In John chapter 11, we find the death of one of Jesus' beloved friends, Lazarus. By examining this account from Jesus' life, there are three principles on grieving that can be identified:
1. All things - even death - are for the glory and honor of God. God didn't intend for any of His creations to die. Death resulted from the personal choice of our ancestors Adam and Eve. Colossians 3:17 tells us that: "whatever [we] do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him".
Does that mean even death? Yes, it does. We die once in this life but Jesus has overcome death and hell and the grave (Isaiah 25:8, Hosea 13:14). This gives us hope and a reason to rejoice and give glory unto God.
2. The dead in Christ will rise again. They will have their place either in the first or in the second resurrection. Martha said to Jesus, “I know that [my brother] will rise again in the resurrection at the last day (John 11:24, emphasis added).”
This is the confidence she had because she knew that her brother knew God. And it's this same confidence that we should have. We should be witnesses for Christ, starting in our own households and with our own families, so that when they die we can say, "I know they will rise again.".
3. We should have compassion on those who mourn. When Jesus saw Mary and the Jews who came with her weeping, He was deeply moved in His spirit, and then He wept (John 11:33,35). Weeping is a human emotion. We should not be too ashamed or too puffed up to share our feelings. If we are to have the heart of Christ, it means experiencing every pang and agony with those who mourn.
Lord, today I'm claiming Your promise that You comfort the broken-hearted for every person who is in mourning right now. I pray that they will find their comfort and their strength in You. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Is there someone you know who's bereaved right now? Share three comforting scriptures with them. Don't have a scripture to share? Spend a moment of silence or weeping with them.
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