As a pastor, one of the things that I deal with is death. I have officiated in the burial of many people: young and old, rich and poor, those who claim Christ, and those who do not. For Christians, there is a different perspective on death than unbelievers. When we lose a Christian, we grieve differently. We shed tears in a different way.
Because we know where they are and Who they are with, we can be comforted.
We can grieve differently because we know there is a place with no more suffering, tears, or pain (Revelation 21:1-4). Heaven, like the garden of Eden was intended to be, is a perfect place.
Better yet than where they are is Who they are with. That Who is Jesus. They will be in His perfect presence without the encumbrance of the world, sin, or anything else that keeps us from seeing Jesus clearly (Revelation 22:1-5). Nothing can be more comforting than that.
Because we know where they are and Who they are with, we can be comforted. Since their pain is over, and not just over, but they have been perfectly renewed from suffering, we can rejoice as Christians. So we grieve differently than those who do not have faith in God, who do not have the assurance of where their loved ones are. So we “may not grieve as others do, who have no hope.” To grieve is to have distress or feelings of grief. It is that of deep sorrow, especially caused by someone’s death.
I want us to notice something important here, Christian. While we know what the verse says, let’s ensure we understand what the verse does not say. The verse does not say that we are not allowed to grieve or shouldn’t grieve. This verse is a pious view that Jesus would disapprove of. How do I know that? Because when Lazarus dies in John 11, Jesus wept. The same Lazarus that Jesus is about to raise from the dead. Yet, in that time of death, Jesus wept; he shed tears out of hurt and pain.
We are not called to skip grieving. We are explicitly called to grieve. But we are called to do it differently than those without Christ.
We are not called to skip grieving. We are explicitly called to grieve. But we are called to do it differently than those without Christ. So while “we are praising God they are no longer in pain,” or “they are in a better place,” or “we will see them again one day,” – this does not mean that we are not allowed to grieve. If we try to suppress these feelings, these emotions God has given us, it will potentially do several things to us. We will end up grieving down the road. We may become frustrated with ourselves that we are not grieving. Or we will struggle to keep the emotions in which God intended us to let out. See, Christian, we can’t be more religious than Jesus. If Jesus wept, we can too. We just do it differently than others.
Proper grief is a gift from God. It gives us the ability to process the loss of someone or something. It allows us a righteous way to use our emotions. Let’s not neglect that which God has given us.
- Tim Madden, Board of Directors