Staring Death in the Faith
by Wayne Stiles
Sometimes you hear crazy stuff at funerals.
I heard of one set of parents who tragically lost a child, and the minister told them not to weep—but to rejoice in faith. After all, their son was in heaven. It sounds so right—so spiritual.
But it was only half right. Therefore, half wrong.
The Bible reveals that when someone dies, the most natural and right thing to do—even in a life of great faith—is to weep. After Abraham’s wife died, we read:
“Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her.” (Genesis 23:2).
Even Jesus wept at the results of physical death (John 11:35). So, that makes it okay for us too.
Why is weeping right, even if our loved one is in a “better place”?
Death in the Life of a Believer
For some reason, we tend to be on a silent hunt for a life of no pain, no worries, no strife—just ease. It’s what we pray for most often, isn’t it? But to look for God to do in this life what He has never promised to do leaves us disappointed and disillusioned.
Physical death brings this home like nothing else can.
Death is an intrusion into God’s initial plan for humanity. God never designed us to have to deal with it. Death came in as a result of mankind’s decision to sin.
When we lose someone to death, we need to remember what death is. Death represents separation, not extinction.
- In physical death, the soul is separated from the body.
- In spiritual death, the soul is separated from God.
- Because of sin, mankind experiences both spiritual and physical death.
The ultimate effects of both spiritual and physical death may be alleviated by faith in Jesus Christ who lived a perfect life and died on a cross to pay for our sins. Then He rose again, conquering death.
So where is the consolation when the pain from the separation of physical death is all we feel?
Where is the Comfort When We Suffer Death?
The author to the Hebrews wrote regarding some of the most faithful believers who ever lived:
Consolation is found in the fact that even though we experience a great loss in death, physical death is reconciled with God’s promises because His promises extend beyond the grave. Even in the life of people of faith, physical death will precede their complete reward—unless the Lord returns first (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
Making the Fact of Death Practical
I have read that on average two people die every second. And of that day we’re reminded:
“No man has . . . authority over the day of death” —Ecclesiastes 8:8
The practical person, then, will always be ready for death. If we’re honest, the questions we need to answer today are at least two:
- Am I prepared to meet God as I am right now?
- Am I prepared to allow God to take my loved one?
Hope and faith allow us to be ready, knowing that the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promises come after death.
Question: What have you learned from the death of a loved one? You can leave a comment by clicking here.