Have you noticed that no matter how long a person lives, or no matter how uncomfortable living may have been for anyone, death is still a deal breaker? If I were tasked with writing this article two years ago, my experience would have been insufficient to conceive the pain of losing a loved one.
There’s almost no limit to what a man can do to keep himself or loved ones from dying, however, death seems to be an inescapable fate. As the writer of Hebrews puts it;
Every human being is appointed to die once, and then to face God’s judgment. – Hebrews 9:27 (TPT)
As believers, it really helps to understand God’s will for our lives and the hope that we have in Christ. This topic is one that’s dear to my heart, and perhaps to many others as well. I’d advise you have your bible opened to John 11 as this article is basically a commentary on one of Jesus’ experience with the death of a loved one.
The passage of scripture (John 11:1-44) is about Lazarus. In verse 3, we see that he wasn’t just a random person, but a close friend of Jesus. In the NKJV, Lazarus sisters referred to Lazarus as the one whom Jesus loved.
Like we all know, Lazarus died and at the end he was brought back to life. However, in between these events, there are three vital lessons from this passage that I believe would be of blessing to you.
1. God feels our pain (John 11:33-35):
Grief can be so heavy sometimes that one may tend to forget a very vital truth as this: our God is not such a one that’s out of touch with our circumstances. God sees and God knows. Speaking of Jesus, the writer of Hebrews says;
For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. – Hebrews 4:15 (NKJV).
In spite of the fact that Jesus knew he could raise Lazarus from the dead, Jesus still wept! This tells us two things; first, death was never God’s idea for mankind (Deut 30:19, Gen 2:17), and secondly, God feels the pain of losing a loved one just as we do, or I may dare to say, more than we do.
You see, for every loved one (friend or family) we may have lost, we knew them here on earth, after they were born. But from God’s perspective, He had known and designed a plan for everyone of them even before they were born! (Jeremiah 1:5).
Now imagine how God feels seeing the ones whom He created after his image being susceptible to death as a result of the fall. Jesus wept, and it wasn’t for the show of it, He truly cared and felt the pain.
As believers, knowing that we have a saviour who feels what we are going through should help us trust Him with our grief. It is important that we do not let grief drive us away from God but further into His arms. I love Peter’s instruction to believers;
Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. – 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT)
2. God sees and God knows (John 11:5-14):
I remember one of the scriptures I learnt while growing up from Psalms;
Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. – Psalms 121:4 (NLT).
Jesus was quite aware of what would befall Lazarus, even before it happened. It becomes easier to rise above the shock and pain that comes with losing a loved one when we reckon this to be true. God sees all things, and God knows all things. Do you know why this is so relieving? Think on it; you have a loving Father with whom nothing is impossible, and He happens to know the end from the beginning.
The beauty that comes from having this conviction is your ability to trust that He has a plan to make all things work together for good (Rom 8:28). Jesus wasn’t caught unawares with Lazarus’ death, no! It is important to remind ourselves that while in some cases death may seem to come as a thief in the night to man, it doesn’t to God. God sees and knows all things and more importantly, believe that God has a plan for us.
3. God has a plan (John 11:21-26):
We know that God sees and feels our pain, and glory to God, for we know that He’s not helpless about it. In Jesus’ conversation with Martha, we see the providence of God revealed. There are myriad of scriptures that reveals God’s plan to conquer death even before the fall of man! God’s plan to conquer death once and for all times is through the redemptive work of Christ, where we receive a body that is incorruptible, unsusceptible to death, or pain, or sorrow. Glory to God!!!
Haven’t you ever wondered why Jesus did not go to raise Lazarus right away before teaching on the resurrection? I remember when I lost a loved one last year. I remember praying at several occasions by myself and with family and friends. I also remember reaching out to a pastor to join in prayers because at that point all I wanted was to see my loved one come back to life. I haven’t forgotten the response this pastor gave me.
He said; ‘Love, perhaps what you’re praying for isn’t what you need’. At that point it wasn’t as if I wasn’t aware of what he was referring to, neither was I unaware of the hope that we had, being that the person I lost was a believer. However, like many people who have gone through such situations, grief would make you believe that acknowledging that God knows all things and that God sees and feels your pain should mean that His plan for us is to raise back to life every relative or friend we lose.
And yes! That’s exactly God’s plan for us, but perhaps not always in the way we expect. God’s plan for mankind is to deal the final blow to sin and death such that death and the fear of death would be no more. So before Jesus raised Lazarus back to life, he first drew Martha’s attention to the bigger picture, because as important as raising a loved one back to life is, that loved one would still die, at what ever old age, be it well over a 100 years. So Jesus says to Martha; Jesus told her,
“I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” – John 11:25-26 (NLT).
Glory to God! We know that God’s plan has been fulfilled in Christ. Do you know how medically impossible our new bodies would be? Have you ever wondered how it would be to live in a body that is not susceptible to a pandemic, that cannot age, that cannot die, that cannot house any infirmity? Oh my! For as many loved ones in Christ we may have lost, we know that they would rise again, with new incorruptible bodies, never to die again.
And for us, should Jesus come during our life time, we know we wouldn’t be left out as well. I love how Paul rightly describes our reality on the last day; It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies. Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:
“Death is swallowed up in victory. -1 15:52-54 (NLT)
If you are grieving the loss of a loved one, just like Martha was, I’d like you to read the Jesus’ response to Martha in John 11:25-26 and ask yourself this: do I believe? This is not hope for those our loved ones only but for us as well, for a man in Christ truly never dies! Glory!