How to Mourn in the Light of the Gospel
A comedian once made the statement, “I am not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” Humorous as that might be, we all know that death is no laughing matter.
When life ends, mourning begins.
However, when the Bible speaks of believers and the subject of death, it makes the point that when a believer dies, we do not sorrow “as others who have no hope.” (I Thessalonians 4:13) So, how are we who are comforted to use the gospel to comfort others? I think there are few points worth considering.
A believer’s resurrection is guaranteed
As Christians, when we’re mourning the passing of a loved one, we are often surrounded by others who do not know the Savior. While we mourn, we must not miss the opportunity to share with others why death is a defeated enemy for the believer.
Jesus Christ did not state a principle in John 14:19, He made a promise. “Because I live, you will live also.”
Why is that resurrection so important? Because all of us are sinners and the punishment for that sin is death and eternal separation from God. But Jesus Christ God’s perfect Son so loved each and every one of us that He took the punishment we deserved. Through His resurrection the third day, He proved His victory over sin and the grave. The One who arose can now give life to others.
How do we receive that life? It is through trust in a Person. Jesus promised,” I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” (John 11:25,26)
The moment we trust Christ alone to save us, our resurrection is as certain as His. Our last moment here is our first moment with Him. We are what Scripture calls, absent from the body, present with the Lord. (II Corinthians 5:8) Even when we fear how death may come, we have no fear of what happens when it comes. We are forever with Him.
However, we as believers, while called to comfort others, often need reminders of God’s comfort as well. That leads us to the next point.
Separation from believers is only temporary
It is difficult to part from one another, but as believers we must remember that parting only temporary, it is not permanent. It has been stated, we only say “so long” not “good-bye”, because it will only be “so long” until we are reunited in the presence of the King. The Bible speaks of the second coming of Christ and those who have gone ahead of us and tells us “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord,” It then adds, “Therefore comfort one another with these words.” (I Thessalonians 4:17-18)
But believers don’t just endure the loss of believing relatives. What must we remember when we face the loss of an unbelieving loved one?
His grace remains when an unbeliever passes away
Many, if not all of us have or will face the loss of a loved one who simply refused to place his/her trust in Christ. This can feel like an almost unbearable trial, especially if the relationship was close. However, God does not abandon us in our trials – He is “near to the broken hearted” (Psalm 34:18) and able to provide the kind of peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7).
In all our trials, including the loss of an ubelieving relative or friend, He promises that “My grace is sufficient for you.” (II Corinthians 12:9) We are not mourning alone; we are mourning with Him there with us. Believer after believer has testified of how He brought them through their hardest moments as they stood by the coffin of a loved one and gave them the strength to go on.
Even when someone dies who never came to the Savior, He is there to strengthen us in our sorrow. That’s becoause He perfectly understands our mourning.
Christ understands mourning better than anyone
When we have trusted Christ, we do not have a Savior who is immune to what we go through when a loved one does. The Bible speaks of a man by the name of Lazarus who died. When they showed Him the tomb where his body was placed, the Bible says, ”Jesus wept.” (John 11:35)
He knows what we go through, the separation we feel, the tears we shed, the memories that makes everything easier and harder.
Conclusion on mourning in light of the gospel
It has been stated that death for the Christian is not a period, it is an exclamation point. Indeed, it is. It is an opportunity to experience His indescribable comfort, look forward to our own passing when we will be with Him, and an opportunity to explain to others, because He lives, they too can live!
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