Sermon #60: Death & Bereavement - Grieving for a Loved One? - Read Words of Comfort

Losing a loved one can be a thunderously shocking experienceYou may understand, from experience, the message that I am trying to convey here. 

The distress and the emptiness that follow are normally very difficult to imagine and absorb. Some people even consider this to be the end of the world for them, while some contemplate suicide and have to be restrained and counselled. 

Those who have not experienced similar circumstances may not quite appreciate the agony that the bereaved may be experiencing deep inside them.

But the dust should settle, eventually. Thoughts and emotions should begin to stabilise at some point. One should begin to look at the incidence from a sober standpoint, and this is where one's beliefs come in handy.

I thank God for His Word. When my son passed on in 2013, I experienced all the above. We know that people die, but it seems that each time that happens in the family it comes as something totally  unexpected.

When the dust somewhat settled, I asked myself a pertinent question, "What do I believe in relation to this incident?" 

I will give you the lessons and the words that encouraged me; words that could embolden you today if you are in a similar situation. But these words are for the saved. That's why it's important to lead our loved ones to Christ as a matter of urgency; you never know when the last goodbye will be.

Listen to this: " is destined to die..." - Hebrews 9:27 (NIV). 

That's what it is. It may not be today, tomorrow, or next year, but you and me will die at some point. You are destined to die; so am I. So are your loved ones - parents, close friends, children, siblings, workmates, high school colleagues, etc. They will not live on the the earth forever, for it was never meant to be.

We indeed are on a journey. How and with whom we walk on this journey is therefore of critical importance. Our lives should exhibit this consciousness always.

Consider this: "If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord." - Romans 14:8 (NIV). 

We should live to the Lord; we also should die to the Lord. We should belong to, or remain in, the Lord. That's the source of our hope. It is encouraging to note that we remain the Lord's, whether in life or death!

If we live to the Lord, we will be able to speak like Paul. At one point Paul said, "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." - Philippians 1:21 (NIV). What an elevated revelation! To die is gain. Indeed, for the saved that's what it is. So if your loved one belonged to the Lord, these words will surely comfort you, just as they did me, though painful the death of a loved one is.

In many places in the Bible, death is referred to as 'sleep'. So those who died in Christ are 'asleep in Christ'. The word 'sleep' defines the Lord's perception of death, a perception that we need to adopt. 

Consider the following verses:
  • "He went in and said to them, 'Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.'" - Mark 5:39 (NIV).

  • "After he had said this, he went on to tell them, 'Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.'" - John 11:11 (NIV).
  • "For when David had served God's purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed." - Acts 13:36 (NIV). Notice, David did not decay; but his body did.
  • "Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope." - 1 Thessalonians 4:13 (NIV).
  • "He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him." - 1 Thessalonians 5:10 (NIV).
  • We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him." - 1 Thessalonians 4:14 (NIV).
Now listen to this:
  • "Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord." - 2 Corinthians 5:6 (NIV).
  • "However, as it is written: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him"-- but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit." - 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 (NIV).
  • "Then I heard a voice from heaven say, 'Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.' 'Yes,' says the Spirit, 'they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them."Revelation 14:13 (NIV).
These words comforted me. This is what I have believed all my life - this great hope

I know that this world is but a pale shadow of the real world, and that, although I miss my son, he is still the Lord's just as he was when he walked the earth. In my view, nothing could be better than that.

I have also learnt that, even as Christians, we sometimes get too troubled at the loss of a loved one despite the words of hope and comfort that are always before us.

This world is not our eternal home. Our lives on earth will surely come to an end, like it or not. Live ten years, live a hundred years, live a thousand years, to the Lord you will still be less than a day old. 

In my view, the death of a loved one should change our lives completely. In life people tend to destroy relations because of petty differences. Yet I have heard some say, "I should have loved them more," or "I should have spent more time with them," or "I should have done this for them." Whatever it is you should do for the living, do it now, for at some point they will be no more.  

Where do you prefer to live now and beyond - in the presence of the Lord or in the presence of some other lords?

I hope that this has helped you.

[In memory of Isaiah Tapiwanashe Muverengwi (1994-2013). Taken by drowning.]