Summary: How we deal with the loss of loved ones
Intro: This morning, we want to think about death. We are told that death and taxes are certain. Each one of us must come to the point where we make a decision about what the future holds for us. Each of us needs to be prepared for death. And we prepare for death by the choices we make in life. Supposedly a tombstone in an Indiana cemetery has this inscription on it:
Pause stranger, when you pass me by -- As you are now, so once was I
As I am now, so you will be -- So prepare for death, and follow me
An unknown passerby read those words and underneath scratched this reply:
To follow you, I’m not content, until I know which way you went!”
Each of us must prepare for our death. Yet, often what gives us much concern is not the idea of our own death, but facing up to the deaths of those we love. Grieving for others is a difficult thing. This morning, as we think about the death of those we love, I would remind you that God often takes what looks like a failure in the eyes of the world, and uses it to be a great success. I would say to you that even the death of a loved one can be a great victory in the eyes of God, if we will look at things from his perspective.
This morning, let’s ask God to give us his perspective on death.
PRAY: Pray for God to help us to see the death of those we love from his viewpoint
The first thing for us to remember when we think about death, is to remember that death is not part of God’s original plan. God’s plan is life: yet, because of our sin, death came to be. Romans 5:12 - Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. Death is only present because we rejected God’s original plan of life offered for obedience. Yet, even in the presence of death, Christ offers eternal life to those who will trust in him. But in this world, as we face death, how do we cope?
Turn with me in your Bibles to John 11.
READ: John 11:1-16, 33-45
Most of us are familiar with the story of Lazarus. In the story of Lazarus we come to see a few things that help us as we consider facing the death of those we love.
I. Embracing Death Does Not Mean a Failure to Show Emotion
Somehow we have allowed ourselves to buy into the idea that we can’t cry; that we have to “get over it and move on”. But here in this passage we see that our emotions play a very central part in the acceptance of death.
Look in verse 5 - Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.
Jesus loved this family - YET - in spite of his love, he made a decision that was not based upon his emotions, but upon his knowledge of the Father’s will. Facing the death of those we love can be a very emotional time for us. But we always need to make sure that God is top priority in our lives.
Look in verse 33, 35, 38 As Jesus in confronted with the death of his friend Lazarus, he is deeply moved to tears. He doesn’t just let our a small tear, if is greatly moved by his emotions. One of the things I tell people at funerals is to feel free to cry. Our tears are the expression of the emotions of our heart.
Many times people hold back their emotions, and they are not able to grieve in a healthy way. Don’t hold back the emotions that you feel over the death of those you love.
What we are really saying about expressing our emotions is this:
Look how God has worked in the past: He has made you a being filled with emotions.
The expression of those emotions honors God -- when they are expressed in appropriate ways.
1 Thessalonians 4:13 - But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
We can be filled with sorrow, but we still hold on to hope. That is my next point.
II. Embracing Death Does Not Mean Giving Up Hope
Sometimes we think foolishly. We say we are Christians and that we believe the Bible, but sometimes in our thinking we forget what God says. Look in 11:25 - Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"