By John Crotts Faith Bible Church
It is so sad to lose a Christian friend.
Death is so final. Sorrow can feel overwhelming. The God all of comfort knows about such grief. The Bible gives very hopeful words about Christians that have died. They are not gone.
Yes, they are gone from us temporarily. We cannot speak to them, and they cannot speak to us. But this lack of communication is also temporary.
When a Christian dies, the Bible describes him or her as falling asleep. Their body is in the grave but their spirit is literally with the Lord Jesus Christ. The spirit of a person is the essence of the person – their personality, their memories – the real them. So, when we use the euphemism that our friend has gone to a better place, if your friend is a Christian, that saying is absolutely true.
The comforting hope for us is our friend’s death is not the end of the story. When Jesus comes back, he is planning to bring the spirits of all of those Christians who have died along with him. As the Lord splits the sky, he will resurrect the bodies of our dead friends, recreate them and reunite them with their spirits. For Christians alive at the moment of Christ’s return, their bodies will be instantly changed into those same kind of resurrected bodies. The changed Christians will then fly up to meet Jesus in the clouds at his glorious return.
Not only will we see Jesus in resurrected flesh and blood, we will see our friends too. Oh what a day that will be!
Yes, we grieve the loss of our friends, but we do not just grieve. We grieve with hope. The Bible tells us about these things. It is important to treasure these specific truths in our hearts, but then it is important to pray in light of these realities. Let me give you an example of the truth of God’s Word and a prayer that corresponds to it.
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words” (1 Thes 4:13-18).
Dear Father in heaven, I am so sad. My heart feels sick as the waves of grief lift me up and drop me again. My sorrow is disorienting.
I miss my friend. I want to finish our last conversation. I want to have that needed conversation. I want to have a future conversation. But I can’t have any of these anymore.
Thank you for listening to me. Thank you for caring about me in my grief. Thank you for giving me hope in this specific word from the Bible.
I know that the funeral wasn’t the end of the story. I know my friend is with you. What good hands my friend is in.
I’m so glad the Lord Jesus Christ is coming back again. That is one of the best thoughts imaginable. Thank you for letting me know through the Bible that it is going to happen.
I’m also so encouraged to learn about the future of my friend. At the same time I will see you, my friend will get a brand new body that will last forever. My body will be changed, too.
I wonder if my breath will be taken out of my new body as I fly to meet my Lord in the clouds. My friend and I will be together in the honor parade of the returning King.
We will be reunited with one another, but even better, together with our Lord. We will always be with our Lord from that moment onward.
Right now seems so sad. There is a hole in my life that I can almost feel. But Lord, the future seems so bright. You will fill the void. Oh, how much better will the future be than merely filling a void, we will be with you, and with you forever.
In Christ’s earthly ministry, he experienced the death of friends. He knows all about it. Thank you for giving your children these words of encouragement about the loss of our friends. Please help me believe them. Please help my heart keep re-remembering them. Balance out my churning emotions with your comforting, stabilizing truth.
I believe you will help me. You already are.
In Jesus’ name, I ask these things, Amen.