Staying Unshakeable When
Dealing with the Death of a Loved One
Billy Graham once said, “You're born. You suffer. You die. Fortunately, there's a loophole.”
That loophole, my friends, is the difference between unshakeable faith when dealing with the death of a loved one and being shaken until you crumble.
Regardless of the circumstances, the death of a loved one hurts.
Even if you had time to prepare or you know their suffering has ended, you still hurt knowing you will finish your days here on earth without them.
In the book Unshakable: Standing Strong When Things Go Wrong, Nelson Searcy writes, “When someone we love dies, we find ourselves in the middle of one of the worst storms life can bring our way. Learning to face death with faith is essential to making it to the other side of the pain.”
So, what does it look like to face death with faith? That’s what we’re discussing in today’s blog.
Why Death is Different for Christians
There is a significant difference in the way those who have faith in Christ and those without faith deal with death.
Searcy writes, “For the person whose life is built on a solid foundation of faith, death is tremendously heartbreaking but not unbearable, because we have hope in heaven and the assurance that God has a plan. For the unbeliever, however, death is accompanied by unimaginable, inordinate sorrow because it really is a final, bitter goodbye.”
In 1 Thessalonians 4:13, Paul tells the people of the church, “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.”
The key difference is hope.
However, just because Christians have eternal hope, they still grieve. They simply grieve differently.
Additionally, it is important to understand that while Jesus defeated death on the cross, death itself is an enemy.
According to The Gospel Coalition, “As Romans tells us, ‘The wages of sin is death’ (Romans 6:23). It is not a good thing that our Christian friend or family member has passed away. No matter the benefits after death, death itself is an abomination. Death is an unwelcomed guest. It had no place in creation. Rather, it stormed onto the scene as the thief of life upon the entrance of sin into this world. Therefore, death itself is not to be celebrated. We cannot merely rejoice when a Christian dies somehow forgetting that death is an enemy.”
As a result, it is natural for even those with unshakeable faith to struggle with the death of a loved one.
Let’s look at some things we can do to remain unshakeable in our faith when facing such a tremendous loss.
Turn to God
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. 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. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord, forever.
-- Psalm 23
When you are hurting, draw near to God.
Sometimes people do the opposite because they are angry, but when you walk through this experience, God is walking right beside you – if you let him.
While your pain may not go away instantly, you will find comfort and peace.
Also, in hindsight, you will notice all the ways God comforted you during this time.
Allow Yourself to Grieve
Give yourself time and space to grieve. Grief differs from person to person, but it is important to mourn the loss.
Solomon also tells us there is “A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:4).
If you push those feelings away, they will manifest negatively at other times.
God didn’t design us to do life alone. This is abundantly clear when we are dealing with the death of a loved one.
While we grieve, we need support from others.
Searcy explains, “When things get hard, we have to surround ourselves with people we can borrow faith and strength from. We need people to help us hold on – hold on to our hope, hold up our attitude and take hold of our emotions.”
This is where the church can be especially helpful as you grieve.
At South Bay Bible Church, you can find support from the people in your community group.
We also offer biblical counseling for grief and depression.
To Die is Gain
Remember that Paul said, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).
While we grieve, we still hold on to hope for the reason the apostle mentioned if our loved one was a Christ-follower.
Searcy asks, “How could Paul possibly have said that to die would be a gain? Because when a person who believes in Jesus as their savior passes away, they do gain – they gain heaven, eternity, and the presence of Jesus himself. Christianity is not only the best way to live; it’s also the best way to die.”