Mourning a Deceased or a Lost Loved One?
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How real, intense, and lingering is the pain of losing someone close to us! Maybe it is even worse to lose someone close to us while the person is still alive. The grieving process remains the same in either case.
Initially, stunned by trauma, we must face the shock which draws out all emotion, followed by denial, and the useless bargaining with God. Then follows the rending of our innermost being; disbelief, anger, guilt for not doing or being enough, depression, hopelessness, paralyzing fear of being alone, and the indescribable loneliness and longing that never let go as we struggle to move forward. Grief has the power to be detrimental to us on every level of life as we realize we can never share a single moment with that person again.
Even animals can die of sorrow. It is common that a well-loved dog will decide it cannot live without its master; lie down on the grave or somewhere else, and die. Often, humans, seeing no future, feel the same way when faced with the death or loss of a loved one. Mostly, we do not realize that mourning a loved one is a complicated process that calls for patience, not just a few dark days of tears. No one will ever know how final death really is; how utterly disrupting the terrible loss, and for how long it gnaws at every fiber of our souls and our lives until the day when we must face this appalling reality.
Yet, in some Christian circles, some people are so ‘spiritual’ they do not have empathy with those who are mourning the loss of a loved one. They forget that in God’s humanity, Jesus, Who “became flesh” just like we are, “wept,” “groaned in the Spirit” and was “troubled” at, for instance, the death of His disciple Lazarus, (Jn. 11:21-44.) It was not that Jesus, in His Divinity, did not know Lazarus had died, that He would miraculously resurrect Him, and how incredibly hard this awful loss hit Lazarus’ loved ones. Jesus actually showed us, by His own example as a complete human Man, how we still have to deal with our griefs, losses, trials, and tribulations while we are here on earth. So, He commanded in Rom. 12:9-21, “…Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” And so, “carry one another’s burdens, [for] in this way you fulfil the [Moral Law] of Christ.”
Similarly, when Jesus had to go to the cross, in His humanity, He gave us the perfect example to show us that He was not the “macho man,” “mighty man,” or part of “the so-called new breed of christs and gods” we meet in the churches. He did not pretend to possess a so-called ‘superpower’ that ‘changed’ His frail humanity into that of an indestructible, unemotional ‘iceman.’ While praying for Himself in His humanity, knowing what indescribable anguish and pain awaited Him at His trial, torture, and death on the cross, “He was in [such] agony [that] His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” Additionally, when Jesus prayed to the Father in John Chapter 17, it was not because He was almighty God, praying to Himself. For our sake, He was setting the example of our human dependence upon God, by praying FOR Himself as a human, not TO Himself as God. And when He prayed for all His disciples through the ages, “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world [so that they do not experience what I am experiencing,] but that You should keep them from the evil one,” He proved that we will not jump over the water and the fire, but He will be IN us and WITH us as we go through it all on our way to heaven, (Mt. 28:18-20.)
“Keeping us from the evil one,” who preys on every spiritual, emotional, and physical need, (such as natural sorrow, fear, weakness, and hunger,) means that we must not make our own plans to avoid the pain, sorrow, loneliness, and everything that comes with being “human.” We must, sooner or later, face it all to “overcome it all by the blood of the Lamb and the Word of our testimony,” (Rev. 12:11.) The “word of our testimony” is that Jesus did it all for us in our place. Not to make us less human here on earth, but to “deliver us from the evil one,” who constantly pecks at our human emotions and needs, just as He did with Jesus in the wilderness, (Mt. 4:1-11.) Thus, we can only “overcome his wiles” “by the full redemption through Jesus’ blood, [which is the complete] forgiveness of [all our] sins, according to the riches of His grace,” (Eph. 1:7-14; Col. 2:9-15.)
So, it is not God’s will that we will remain stuck in the hopeless darkness of grief. Jesus has “borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” because we were never able to do it for ourselves; just as He carried our sins on the cross, (Isa. 53:4-5.) It is, therefore, His will that we will “overcome” all sorrow in the power of the Holy Spirit. To “overcome” does not mean we will never cry again. It means the scar of sorrow will always be a reality, but by the grace of God, we will be able to step over the pain and loss to keep on “carrying our cross” while day-by-day, following Jesus to heaven, (Lu. 9:23.)
We need this Godly “closure” because we cannot allow the burden of sorrow and loss to engulf us, and to derail our lives here on earth. Jesus’ disciples do not have to “grieve as others who have no hope [of the resurrection.]” (1 Ths. 4:13.) God commanded in Lev. 29:28, “Do not cut yourself for the dead, [mutilate and do yourself physical, emotional, and spiritual harm,] and put tattoos on yourselves, [marks ingrained in your flesh to show allegiance to the dead, as the ancestor-worshipping pagans and others who worship the dead do to themselves.]” Nothing will ever bring back our loved ones to this side of the grave.
That is why we must not speak to the dead to try and tell them how we miss them, etcetera. Jesus explained in Lu. 16:19-31 in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, that no deceased “human spirit” can contact those who are still living here on earth. Jesus Himself Is Eternal Life and the Resurrection of the dead. But until That glorious Day when He returns, the dead will remain dimensions apart from the living on earth, (Eccl. 9:5-6.) They are gone. We mourn their departure – not for them but for ourselves, who must face life without them.
The hard reality is that we cannot grieve forever. There comes a time to let go, get up, and move on. It is a sound Scriptural fact that God forbade the living to try and speak to the dead. Deuteronomy 18:10-14, “There shall not be found anyone among you who… [acts as a] spiritist, a medium [who supposedly speaks to the dead,] or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord… You shall be blameless before the Lord your God…”
Additionally, if you have lost a spouse, know for certain that you are not married to that person anymore. The marriage covenant is just for our time on earth. The death of a spouse annuls the marriage covenant completely. In heaven, there are no married couples. Jesus said in Mt. 22:30, “[The spirits of all true believers in heaven] are like angels, [they do not become angels, who are a different species from humans,] who do not marry in heaven.”
If you mourn a child, brother, sister, parent, or friend, know that you cannot stay attached to them in any way. “The deceased knows nothing. Nevermore will they have a share in anything done under the sun,” (Ecclesiastes 9:5-6.) They have gone to a place where they cannot hear you, and where they cannot long for, or watch over anyone here on earth, because everything on earth has passed away for them. However, it is a great consolation that we do not need the deceased to take care of us. True believers have the Lord Jesus Christ and His mighty, holy angels to "watch over them." What's more, it is a lie that God, the angels, or the human spirits of the deceased cry in heaven. The writer of Revelation 21:4 rejoiced, “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There shall be no more death, sorrow, crying, or pain, for the former things [of this world] has [forever] passed away [when we reach heaven.]”
Realizing these great Scriptural truths about our deceased loved ones, brings wonderful relief for those who grieve so deeply that they try to talk to them and keep them attached to them somehow. What a great comfort to know that they are completely free from all our pain, sorrow, loneliness, and other affliction here on the earth. They are forever in the hands of Jesus. So, we must leave them where they are and, by the grace of God, bravely carry on without them. All we have are the memories of them, but those memories must not rob us of a new life, which God still has for us in this world.
It is the living who needs us now; let us focus on ourselves and on them, not on the deceased. Above all, let us seek and do the will of our Father to glorify Him as long as we still have time left here on earth.
Let us stop fixating on the dead and futilely try to hold on to them like the pagans try to do. We must fix our eyes on Jesus and eternal life in heaven with Him. Whether we will meet them again or not; that part of our lives is over. Let us now decidedly leave it all to God. Let us not grieve our Father in heaven by doing what the pagans do, who try to “call up the dead by consulting spiritists,” and talk to the dead as if they can hear us, or still care about us and what we are doing here on earth, (Deut. 18:11-13.)
The same goes for the living who worry about the eternal destination of their deceased loved ones. Those who died before the age of accountability, are safe in the presence of Jesus, as He promised that to “those belong the Kingdom of heaven!” (Mt. 19:14.) For the rest, God Is the Just and Righteous Judge under all circumstances and salvation will always remain a personal choice for everyone on earth, (Jn. 3:16.) Nothing we do or say will change the choices the deceased made while they were still alive. Ezekiel 18:20 teaches, “… The Father shall not bear the guilt of the son, nor the son the guilt of the father… [but each one will give an account only for himself before God.]”
Grief is never a choice, but choosing life for ourselves now and especially eternal life in heaven, while working constructively towards our healing, is the only option that will make us overcome. We can achieve this by God’s grace when we invest our emotions and time in seeking His joy and goodness in knowledge of, and obedience to His true Word, (Rom. 12:1-3.) As we surrender ourselves step by step in totality to Jesus, His peace will flow from all affliction. There is only one guarantee that we shall not perish in sorrow but grow in godliness, and that is when we choose to let go of sorrow and live in God’s grace. Then, as His healing process systematically floods our souls, we may actively share His goodness with others to comfort and support those in need, (Rom. 8:28.) There is no greater healing in this world, besides the supernatural strength and work of the Holy Spirit, than to look beyond your own ‘crosses’ to help others who have stumbled under the weight of their afflictions.
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