Coping with the Departure of a Saved Loved One
Arwyn D. Reish December, 1999
Remember, no matter what transpires, God is still God, and man is still man. Total submission to the wisdom and authority of God will open the heart’s door to peace and faith. “Secret things belong to the Lord.” Therefore a human inquest into the reason or explanation of a sudden death or a death after a long illness will never provide a solid or satisfying answer. God desires that His children trust Him and lean not on their own understanding.
God’s comfort awaits the sorrowing soul through God’s Word and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. God remembers that man is dust and that the sting of death is a great burden. When seeking comfort, the saint of God needs to review the life of the departed loved one and the teaching of Christ in regard to death.
While Enoch was walking with God he was taken to heaven. Moses went to the Mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah to view the Promised Land but never entered into the Land of milk and honey. Elijah, the mighty prophet of God, who established the school of the prophets and wrought great works for God, left it all, as he departed in a fiery chariot. Stephen, a young deacon, served only a short period of time when his life was dashed out by rocks. Walking close with God and serving the Master is not a guarantee that one’s physical life will not be taken. Often God calls his most endeared saints and servants to enter a richer union with Him in a place of higher service in eternity.
God requires the best. An Old Testament offering was to be without blemish. Dedicating your life as a sacrifice must be holy and acceptable to God. Those who serve Christ must be fit for His use. Therefore, God often selects the very best when He transfers a saint to heaven.
When the departure of a saint is addressed by Christ, He uses the tenderest and gentle term, asleep. Lazarus sleeps. The saints in Thessalonica have fallen asleep. The most vivid terms of death are reserved for the unbeliever. “It is appointed unto men once to die and after this the judgment."God truly reflects meekness and compassion when He states “how precious is the death of the saints in His sight.”
Untold promises of Christ become the reality for the departed loved one. The beloved one is now in the presence of Christ. The better place of eternal residence is now the permanent dwelling where God’s glory and perfection fills the abode. No longer a stranger and pilgrim, but a member of the heavenly church, the believer had a new role as a co-servant of the King of Kings in preparation for God’s kingdom reign on earth. Away from all earthly conflict and sorrow the departed loved one learns at the feet of Jesus and worships at the throne of God.
No believer would ever wish or invite the blessed soul a return to this perverse and corrupt generation but rather with undaunted hope those that remain wait anxiously to meet their loved ones in heaven.
The family member and friend who remain continually struggle with the crisis of loneliness and emptiness. The awareness of the departed presence is like a ghost with no body. The voice of the beloved is like a reverberating whisper in the memory. The tender touch and smile is but a thought of the past. Their mantle is now laid aside and their faith is but a challenge for the weary companion. Their leadership, companionship, and counsel are now silent. Without their character and strengths the sorrowing soul feels weak and frail. The departure has left those that remain in a state of contrition before the Lord of Heaven, Who still cares and shepherds His blessed sheep.
The test of faith now becomes the pathway for those that remain. God will never leave of forsake. He alone becomes one’s daily strength. He too will “guide us until death.” He will become the father of the orphan and the companion to the remaining spouse. He will fill all with His divine presence and whisper “peace be still.” The Lord will surely carry the burden when cast upon Him. He will not give more than one can bear and He will make a way of escape.
God has not changed by the circumstance of live have and so with a fixed heart upon the Savior and Lord, victory gradually comes to those who sorrow over a departed loved one. May the God of all grace be merciful to the saints in sorrow.