Things to Remember at the Loss of a Loved One
Elder Jeff Winfrey, Pastor
Dawson Springs Primitive Baptist Church
101 East Walnut Street
Dawson Springs, KY 42408
I Don’t Understand
The death of a loved one is a very difficult time for anyone. In this world some are overwhelmed with inward despair. Some cry aloud. Some become visibly angry. Some curse God.
But in the next world there is rejoicing. There is happiness that a child has come to the Father. There is victory that a redeemed sinner bows before the Savior. The redeemed and the angels sing praises at such a glorious arrival.
What is the difference in the two scenes? How can one group be so sad while the other is rejoicing? How can both look on the same scene and see it so differently? The answer lies in how much one knows about the reality of eternity.
The knowledge of eternity lets heaven rejoice. A limited understanding causes earth to curse. God’s gift of faith and an understanding of the gospel allow people in this world to have a limited view of the next. Though eyes of faith are at best dim, and though understanding is at best limited, the brightness of the next world is such that a child of God can, even now, have a fairly clear view of the reality of eternity.
This view of the next world, though admittedly a dim view, is clear enough to allow some to have inward hope in place of despair. The understanding of eternity allows many to have peace in place of anger. Some praise God, while others curse.
There is nothing that can make your hurt disappear. There are no words to make everything suddenly feel good. But an understanding of some of the reality of things concerning God and death will help to ease the despair of your current situation.
God’s Great Love
It is comforting to know that there is a God who does love His children. God is a God of love and His love for His children is immeasurable. You may wonder if God really loves you, especially at a time like this. But be assured that He does.
Perhaps, the depth of His love can best be seen when you realize that God delivered His Son, His beloved Son, His only begotten Son, His perfect Son, Jesus Christ to the suffering of the cruel cross because of His love for an imperfect child, even you. When you know this you will begin to know just how much God does love you, your departed loved one, and all His children. You must realize that Christ suffered His horrible death in order to conquer this death that you now face. You must understand that His death secured eternal life for each of His children, including you and your departed loved one.
How far does this love go? “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him freely give us all things?” (Rom 8:32) If God has given His Son for you will He abandon you now? You need to know that God is still in control and that He still loves you. He continues to love as only a God whose name is love would be capable of loving. He nurtures as a nursing mother. He protects as an almighty Father. He cares for you.
At this time of your loss it may be difficult for you to understand how a loving, caring, all powerful God could allow you to hurt so badly. But there is more to the story than you may know and there is more to consider than your hurt.
God Is On His Throne
The thought that there is a ruling, reigning God on a throne overseeing His universe is a wonderful thought. It is wonderful to know that God is in control and that things are not just happening by chance, luck or fate. There is a God who “doeth according to his will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth.” (Daniel 4:35) God declares, “I am God, and there is none else; I am God and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning…saying my counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” (Isaiah 46:9-10)
God in no way is the cause of sin or the doer of evil. The above statements do not imply that He is, and neither should any person say this against Him. There are great forces of evil and these forces are active. Sin is rampant in the world and the scriptures are clear that there are many dire consequences to sin, including death to individuals in the human race. Is God wrong in allowing sin to bring forth death? Is it God’s fault that man in the very beginning rebelled and brought upon himself the death that was promised as a consequence of sin? No, sin and death are not the work of God and He is not to be blamed for them.
But what God is responsible for is the eternal life that He has promised and secured for His children. He is absolutely and totally the cause of this gift to sinners. It is by His grace that we are saved and to His glory that there is a life of joy awaiting His children. It is indeed wonderful that His reign is even over death. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom 6:23)
Can You Tell Me Why?
In the despair and the confusion at the parting of a loved one, a common question that arises in our minds is ‘why’. Why now? Why me? Why, God, why?
As you begin to understand the great love and the ruling power of God, you may question why a God who has all power and who loves you has allowed this one that you loved to be taken from you.
I suppose that these are honest questions that can come from God’s children who truly do love their God. But these questions and doubts are based on inadequate information. Again a better understanding about the reality of God: His love, His providence and His eternity will help to answer these questions.
In our limited and dim view of things we have no idea of what the future might hold for us or for our loved ones. In God’s perfect view He knows all things and all possibilities. There is a very enlightening and comforting verse that explains how God in His perfect knowledge calls His children to heaven at the right moment of time. “The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come.” (Isa 57:1) The verse speaks of righteous and merciful people departing this world for a reason. Though none seem to consider and lay it to heart, that perhaps the reason for their parting is said to be to spare them from the evil to come. Only God could know what they were spared from, but in His love perhaps He saw that they should not be allowed to go through the evil to come and He took them on home to spare them. To God be praise!
But What About Me?
There are many things that you need to know to help you cope with the moment. First of all, know that your loved one is with God, with Jesus, without pain, beginning the never-ending journey of eternal happiness. At the moment of parting the spirit, the life, the person goes to God. The body will go soon, but the spirit is there now.
Secondly, know that God does love and care for you. His grace is sufficient; His love is boundless. You can cast your cares on Him, for He cares for you. He said that He will not leave you comfortless, but that He will come to you. He has promised that He will never leave you, nor forsake you. He has assured you that He will be with you always, even to the end of the world. He searches your heart; He knows how you feel; and He is touched by your feelings.
Next, know that your days here are few. At first this thought may seem to be of no value in helping you cope, but truly the world to come is so much better than this world that we can rejoice that our days down here are few and will quickly pass. Man that is born of woman is of few days and full of troubles. But man that is born of God is of endless days and without troubles.
Finally, know the power of prayer. Jesus invites, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest…learn of me….and ye shall find rest for your soul.” (Mat 11:26-27) Come to Him; He will comfort. And in addition to coming to Him, learn of Him. Know Him. For the more you know Jesus and the more you know of the reality of eternity, the better you can cope with the troubles of this world. May He give you rest.