When Death Is the Lesson

Scripture: John 11:35 "Jesus wept."
I’m over death and the pain it brings.
I’m over death and the sad song it sings.
I’m over death, how it takes without regard.
I’m over death because afterwards, living is so hard.

The death of a loved one is an agonizing feeling that can suffocate and consume. Most times loved ones are left baffled and confused as to why this is happening and happening at this time. There is never a good time or even a right time for a person to lose a loved one. The wave of emotions that comes when processing the death of a loved one continue as family members are left to deal with not only the actual death but the business of death. Aside from extreme old age, many people don’t understand why God would take a person that they love away from them. Death, even in sickness, often devastates the family left to grieve. We often, selfishly, want the person to remain here with us despite their illness. We pray for healing, peace, and comfort for them, but when we get what we have prayed for it feels like a betrayal from God. Most times we don’t know what to do or how to react when death is what God has ordered. Most times, when in the moment, we don’t recognize that death is the answered prayer. What is recognized is the pain felt from the loss, the emptiness felt from the loss, the unending sadness felt from the loss. We recognize the feelings and ignore the facts. In the midst of pain, sadness, and discord our theology tends to get lost and tested. In the midst of pain, we tend to forget that the Lord will never leave us because He can’t; He is always with us because He is omnipresent – Joshua 1:9! In the midst of our pain we tend to forget that God knows how we feel because He is omniscient; He knows all things and has experienced all things – Ps 147:5. In the midst of our pain we tend to forget that all things work together for good to them that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Furthermore, in the midst of our pain we definitely don’t want to believe that there is a lesson for us in the death of our loved one. Nevertheless, the Lord our God is intentional. And there is a lesson, even in death.

Consider with me the death of Lazarus, Mary and Martha’s brother. Everything about his dying was a lesson. Remember, God is intentional. The Bible tells us that Jesus purposely tarried when he heard Lazarus was sick (John 11:6-7). In the midst of their pain Mary and Martha forgot their theology. They knew that Jesus can never be late (because He’s an on-time God), but still they blamed Jesus for not being there on time (John 11:21). The death of Lazarus was a teaching moment. The Lord can and will use anything He wants to grow us and/or to bring Him glory.

The lessons in death are:
1. The Lord is always with you, even when you feel alone (Joshua 1;9).
2. The Lord fully understands how you feel because He has felt sorrow (Hebrews 4:15).
3. For believers, everything that the Lord allows is intended to grow you, and growth from the Lord is always good (Romans 8:28).
4. Death, many times, is the Lord’s way of showing our loved one grace (Psalms 34:19).
5. Death is a way for believers to share Christ with others (John 11: 31).

So, even in the most awful time in your life, in times when you feel alone, times when you feel betrayed by God, times when things feel bleak, God is using that situation at that time to teach, stretch, and grow His children.

Prayer: Dear Lord, forgive us for forgetting who You are and what You are when we are emotionally and mentally hurt. Forgive us, Lord, for blaming You for not doing what we want the way we want it done. Your word is clear, that Your ways are not our ways. Thank you, Lord, for answered prayers, for peace, and understanding. Thank you, Lord, for the comfort You provide when You decide that healing for our loved one will be eternal instead of physical. Continue to reveal to us the lessons that will eventually result in our peace, understanding, and comfort, even in the midst of our pain. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
(by Patricia Towns)

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