Q: I’ve lost someone I love very much. I feel hopeless, as if this sadness will never go away. Should I expect that I may feel this way forever?
A: You do not have to feel that way forever. Everyday, all over the world, people who have experienced tremendous loss and trauma, find joy again—only this time, it’s a joy they have never known before. It’s found when a person understands that Jesus’ death on the cross offers them a new life, a chance to start over again—and then invites Jesus into his/her heart. Jesus said, “Behold, I make all things new.” (Revelation 21:5) You may always live with a sense of loss for the person you love, but your heart can be reborn, and any loss you may feel will pale in comparison to the joy knowing that Jesus lives in you. And that is something you can expect to feel forever.
Q: What can I do to hurry my recovery?
A: It’s best to not be in a hurry. Of course you want your pain to go away quickly. That is understandable. Keeping in mind, however, that a rushed grieving period is an incomplete grieving period, and it will likely come back to pull you down later in life. It needs to go slow. It needs to take its course. A very good thing to do is to seek out support groups. Initially, most people usually find them to be less helpful than they hoped, but over time, their support group becomes the backbone of their transition period, providing friendship, wisdom and the comfort that comes from the shared experience. It’s just like grieving itself—it takes time. Groups are plentiful in most communities and can be particularly so within the church community.
But please keep this in mind—everybody will experience the loss of a loved-one at some point in their lives. Everybody. Even the great characters of the Bible experienced loss. King David’s son Absalom was the apple of his eye. He would have given anything to keep that boy from dying, even his own life. Yet he was killed on the battlefield by David’s own general after he told the general not to lay a finger on him. Afterward, David’s soul cried out, “O my son, Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died for you, O Absalom, my son, my son. (2 Samuel 18:33) You are not alone.
F: If God is loving, why would He let this happen?
A: God never intended for there to be death. (Genesis 2) If you look at the conditions meant for man to live in, it was an eternal life in God’s presence. But man chose death, (Genesis 3) and now we live in a world where death happens everyday. And what you experienced, with your loss, is a continuation of that decision. But here’s the good news. God could have let mankind live that way forever. But he didn’t. He sent his Son to die on the cross for us, and then to be raised from the grave so that His victory over death could be imputed to us—and we could live with God in heaven forever. (John 3:16) It’s the return of the Garden of Eden. And it’s yours just for the asking.
Q: If my loved-one wasn’t a professing Christian, is it a certainty that they aren’t in Heaven?
A: Only God knows the subtle turns of the heart. A person could spend their lives not following God, but if there was a moment, either somewhere in the life, or perhaps just before passing, that they confessed that they knew Jesus was the Son of God, and therefore, their only hope, it is possible that they are in heaven now, enjoying communion with God. If you look at the scene when Jesus is on the cross alongside two criminals, recorded in the book of Luke, this exchange occurs:
Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise. - Luke 23: 39-43
It is subtle proclamation of faith, but Jesus accepts it, and him, into Heaven.
Q: How can the fear of death be reduced?
A: Many people believe they shouldn’t die because they have too much to live for. Often, this means they have responsibilities and unfinished business that wouldn’t be taken care of if they were gone. But having people and things you are responsible for won’t keep you from dying if it’s your time. Doing what you can to make sure they’re cared for after you pass away can alleviate fear. Reconcile broken relationships before you’re unable to. But don’t live for dying. There’s a difference between taking reasonable steps and obsessing.
1 Corinthians 15:55-57 O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die.
Psalm 116:15 Precious in the sight of the LORD Is the death of His saints.
Psalm 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
Psalm 3:6 I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.
Isaiah 43:2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.
Psalm 27:1 A Psalm of David. The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
Psalm 118:6 The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?
Psalm 16:8 I have set the LORD always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.
Psalm 27:3 Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war should rise against me, in this I will be confident.
Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Psalm 46:2 Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Psalm 73:24 You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.
2 Corinthians 7:6 Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus.
1 Thesalonians 4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
2 Thessalonians 2:16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace,
2 Thessalonians 2:17 Comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.