Life is full of unplanned situations, including death and processing emotions of grief heartache, and loss. It is universal, all consuming and takes many forms. There are many times when we can experience the very highs of life. But we can’t forget that there are also lows that have to be managed with grace. Even as a Christian, losing someone close to you, and dealing with grief is confusing and challenging.
No matter how unexpected or predictable, death shakes us to the core. The pain of grief is inescapable.
This past August 2020, I lost a very close friend of mine. What makes it harder is that I was holding her hand, singing worship music as she took her last breath. This is a memory that I will cherish for the rest of my life. During this moment, I was reminded of how good God is even in death.
My warehouse of memories is full of beautiful, funny, and amazing moments. I will hold on tightly to these treasures. Collections of photos and adventures we experienced together. Conversations and prayers we prayed together will always hold a place in my heart. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye, or deal with the grief that has overtaken me over the days, weeks, and months after her passing.
It has taken me a long time to even process the situation. And if I can be honest I’m still processing it. I did everything that you have probably done when faced with the death of a loved one. To be honest, questioning God was at the top of my list. I cried out and asked God why. I even tried to rationalize the situation in my own thinking, but I reminded myself that God doesn’t do things that we understand. He also does not do things that always make us comfortable.
He planned for this.
What I don’t want anyone to think is that as Christians, we are exempt from emotions. I struggled for weeks and still have bad days when I am still struggling. I’ll never know, or understand why some lives are shorter than others. It’s not for me to know.
God’s plan is for even the darkest of things to result in redemptive good for His children. Another close friend of mine recently turned me on to the TPT version of the Bible. I want to share a few verses with you from that translation.
“Beloved brothers and sisters, we want you to be quite certain about the truth concerning those who have passed away so that you won’t be overwhelmed with grief like many others who have no hope.” - 1 Thessalonians 4:13 TPT
Those who have hope in the Lord and trust in his ways, in my opinion, grieve differently. The Bible calls us to grieve unapologetically. Death is tragic and sorrowful, but how we chose to approach it, manage our emotions, and make our way through it doesn’t have to be the worst experience of our lives.
We can grieve in a hopeful manner.
Christians experience grief, but we can grieve without despair. We have sorrow but without defeat. Sadness happens, but we can be sad without hopelessness. I call it true sorrow and true hope. These things don’t cancel out one another. We feel both the great weight of sorrow and the great thrill of hope. We are able to grieve genuinely, but hopefully, because we grieve temporarily. All grief comes to an end. As we weep, remember that the one who weeps with you understands it all. God understands our pain, he understands our heartache. Death will not reign forever. (Related Post: From Life to Death)
Because Jesus conquered death, those who believe in him will also conquer death. Because Jesus lives, we live.
“And the last enemy to be subdued and eliminated is death itself.” – 1 Corinthians 15:26 TPT
Remember that God defeated death and sin.
Death was not part of God’s original plan. One reason death is so hard to accept and understand is that it’s completely out of step with the life God originally planned for this world.
The death of Jesus Christ is a powerful demonstration of this truth. On the hill of death, the best thing that ever happened came from the worst thing that ever happened.
What could be more unjust than the illegal execution of the one perfect person who ever lived? But this terrible moment was under the control of God. He knew this ultimate evil, would accomplish ultimate good. In this dark moment, as Jesus died on the cross, God defeated sin and death. Two enemies, we can not defeat on our own.
Death is the enemy of everything good and beautiful about life. Death reminds us that we live in a world that is terribly broken and not functioning according to God’s original design.
You are never alone in the darkness of grief.
In my opinion, death is one of the loneliest experiences. The circumstances you are dealing with are individual and unique. It’s normal to feel as if no one has been through what you’re experiencing. It’s normal to feel all alone, even when you are surrounded by people. Here are a few things to remember when you are processing the death of someone you love:
- Be honest about your emotions
- Run to where comfort can be found – God
- Don’t fall into grief traps
- Allow your community to surround you
- Be thankful even in the darkest moments
Good does come out of the very worst of things. Is death a bad thing? Yes. But the Bible tells us that the brightest of good things can be found in the midst of evil’s darkness.
I did not say goodbye to my sweet friend Ella Holman. I said, “I’ll see you on the other side.”