Living, Loving and Grieving with Hope
Author: Susan Thomas
Category: Blog, Counseling, Family, The Gospel
As biblical counselors, and as people, how do we help others face the dark reality of death and dying? God says, grieve. But grieve with hope.
This side of heaven, we are all faced with the reality of death and dying. While we may grow accustomed to the elderly and attempt to make light of the aging process (“I feel so old!”), the reality is that with each passing day we are one day closer to dying. How do we live knowing we will die? How do we love knowing we will lose those we love?
Whether subconscious or well aware, the reality of death and dying affects people in multiple ways. We all deal differently with this condition of our mortality. Some of us find ourselves battling various stages of anxiety or depression and may not even realize the connection. The hopeless thoughts and anxious emotions lessen the quality of life at best and debilitate a person at worst. In an attempt to combat these unwanted emotions, we may try to control the people, circumstances and world around us in an attempt to avoid death and dying.
For others, denial or distraction serves to help us avoid facing the inevitable. We immerse ourselves in our busy schedules. We live as though tomorrow is guaranteed. We pursue pleasures that help us temporarily forget. Yet, death always comes.
As biblical counselors, and as people, how do we help others face the dark reality of death and dying? How do we walk as people full of joy and peace when headed toward this grim end? When we receive the dire diagnosis, attend the funeral or lose someone we dearly love, how do we go on?
And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. (1 Thessalonians 4:13, NLT)
God says, grieve. But grieve with hope.
Everyone grieves. But not everyone has hope. God is so good to let us know that physical death is not the end of the story. God has given us His Word to reveal that which is beyond what our human eyes can see. For those who believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, God says, “I want you to know what will happen.”
For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died. (1 Thessalonians 4:14, NLT)
As Christ followers, we know that Jesus was raised to life again. And God says that when Jesus returns to make all things new, every believer who has died will be with Him. Alive and well! Death is not the end! And listen to these wonderful words of hope…
17 Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. 18 So encourage each other with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:17-18, NLT)
As biblical counselors, and as people, we must encourage others with these words from our God. We must counsel others that death is not final for the believer. Death is simply a doorway through which we are reunited with all believers and live with our Lord forever.
Does this mean we do not grieve when faced with the loss of a loved one or the reality of our own death? No. The Bible says we grieve. We ache. We feel pain. We feel sorrow. We hate death. We mourn loss. We wrestle with questions. We struggle to understand. At times we have no words for the magnitude of our grief.
But we have hope.
We do not grieve like people who have no hope. As we counsel people facing loss, we must always point them to our hope in Christ. Which brings us back to faith. Do I believe?
Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen. (Hebrews 11:1, HCSB)
In addition to the pain and grief a person faces when experiencing death and dying, often people experience a crisis of faith. As biblical counselors, we have the privilege to enter in to another’s grief and also encourage that person’s faith. In the midst of grief, there is hope. And “this hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.” (Hebrews 6:19, NLT)
Posted on October 11, 2016