Our thoughts and prayers go out to you in this very difficult time of loss and grief.
At Christ’s Family Church our desire is to be the hands and feet of Christ, to minister to your needs and bring comfort to your heart.
No one wants to talk about death, much less make funeral plans for a loved one who is terminally ill. But doing so can give you and your family member peace of mind, help minimize stress during a stressful time and let you honor the person you love and care for.
As hard as it may seem, it’s easier to make funeral arrangements for your loved one ahead of time — when your emotions and those of your family aren’t strained by the prospect of an imminent death.
What do I do with my feelings when death confronts my life?
For many of us we stroll along through life like it will never end. We make decisions as if our lives never change or never conclude. As a pastor I have been trying to help people understand that part of this thinking is true and part of it is false. We will live forever but the evidence is overwhelming that it won’t be here on this earth. The numerous funerals I’ve attended and officiated at, paint a clear picture of the reality that our bodies are left here and I must trust that God has a plan for my soul. The Bible speaks of God as loving, generous and merciful which can bring hope to us who are left on this earth.
The Bible speaks of Heaven as an eternal place, but so is Hell. In God’s great kindness He has afforded every human being an opportunity to decide where they will spend eternity based on a very simple criteria. Let me share a couple of really clear scripture from the Bible. I would encourage you to look them up in your own Bible and read the verses surrounding them to get a contextual view. Let’s start with the struggle, even the closest followers of Christ Himself were having. Jesus had been speaking with them about His own death and it brought a brush with mortality to them, so He made sure they got the truth for their own life.
John 14:1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”
5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well.
These were Jesus’ very best friends and He cared enough to be truthful with them. He made it clear that eternity wasn’t about rule keeping or hoop jumping; it was about a personal relationship with Him. He cared about their families and knew what pain accompanied the loss of a loved one.
Another verse that paints a clear picture as to who is invited to be part of the family of God is found in the book of John. Listen to the heart of God’s as Jesus tells all people what His heavenly father wants for them.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
Jesus makes it very clear that what you believe makes the difference. He tells His followers that the single way to get into Heaven is through Him and the only way you will be excluded from Heaven is by not yielding, your life and will, to Jesus life and will. God is welcoming and has made every provision possible to meet you where you’re at.
Many of us feel inadequate or unworthy to be considered for eternal comfort or even healing in this life of ours. The Apostle Paul in the next verses corrects those, who think that Heaven is for those who work hard to get there. Listen for the high value of what you believe. He differentiates between living by the rules (Law) and living for Christ by trust (Faith).
Romans 10:5 Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: “The man who does these things will live by them.” 6 But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: 9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. 11 As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him (Jesus) will never be put to shame.”
Maybe you’re feeling lonely or lost without your loved one. Maybe you feel like part of you is missing. For many of us when someone we know dies we are confronted with our own mortality. We suddenly stop and count the days we have left to live or recognize the brevity of life. Even if we see ourselves living to 100 plus years old, it still is a drop in the bucket of eternity. The Apostle James addresses the arrogance of those who believe they’re in control of their own lives.
James 4:13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil.
God’s generosity is displayed in His gift of life. We can rest in God’s word of truth that if the loved one who died had given their life over to Christ they are in His wonderful presence. However this is not often the struggle. We are most often thrown into a mental battle when we are unsure of their eternal condition or ours. God clearly wants to use this brush with mortality as a wakeup call to us who are still left on the earth. He wants us to ask ourselves the question; “If we died tonight would we enjoy eternity with Him or without Him?”
I would be a poor pastor if I chose to overlook this season of your life. Don’t miss this wonderful encounter with eternity. Learn what God is trying to make clear to you about your own life. Choose today to believe in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, so you can sleep tonight with the assurance that you will reunite with your loved one someday. I also want to address a few of the most asked questions for people in this most difficult time of loss.
What about the ache of loss?
At CFC we teach that God gave us our feelings on purpose. Not so they would hamstring us for our future but so that they would awaken us to our present. God can and will comfort us if we speak directly to Him about our pain. He is the only source of true pain relief. His sole goal is to get you to see the possibility of joining Him after you leave this earth. He wants you to address your present feelings, so you can have your attention toward the future and not the discomfort of the past.
2 Corinthians 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.
What about the possibility of never seeing them again?
At CFC we teach that God’s word speaks of death as being a separation between one world and another. Read the following scripture to see that we cannot communicate with deceased people from this life directly. We can think often of them and live our lives related to our connection to them, but they await our arrival in the future and cannot communicate with us on the earth, only God can. Also note that heaven is a real place of knowing each other and communicating with each other. In other words, I will know you and you will know me.
Luke 16:19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’
27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
30 “ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ”
Does God take people off the earth?
At CFC we teach that our God is good, compassionate and merciful. We look to the life of Jesus as the exact model of how God interacts with mankind. Based on this, we at CFC do not believe God takes babies, children or any loved ones from us. So where does this destruction come from? Listen to God’s word tell us precisely.
Acts 10:34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. 36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37 You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
What we hear very clearly is that God does good and Satan is the enemy. Understand that Satan hates God and everything that God loves, and that’s you. Satan uses sickness, sin, greed, selfishness, lust and much more to steal all that God intended for His kids. Satan wants your peace, your sleep and your joy but Jesus wants you rescued. The Bible tells us in James to submit to God and resist the Devil.
So what happens to children who die?
At CFC we teach that infants and young children are treated with some form of special grace based on several scriptures (Matt. 18:2-4, Matt. 19:13-14, Luke 18:16). This is because we know that all are born into sin so don’t deserve heaven but our merciful God has a heart for his children. God deals with children stillborn, aborted, malnourished or many other human tragedies uniquely. Though little scripture is available on this topic our hearts resonate with the mercy of our God.
Children who are old enough to choose are given grace and faith to believe just like every other person and so are not constrained by age or life experience from entering heaven by faith in Jesus Christ.
Is cremation a deal breaker for Heaven?
We at CFC teach that the human body is a shell the real “us” lives in while on the earth. When we die, we leave the shell here on earth and the real us (spirit and soul) enters Heaven or Hell. Cremation is the rapid removal of moisture through the process of applying heat. Cremation produces a residual pile of ashes, which is the same pile of ashes that remain in the casket after complete decomposition takes place over time. So cremation just affects the shell you leave behind.
Ecclesiastes 3:20 All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.
What about those who never heard the gospel?
What if they didn’t get to church or their family was of a different religion? What if they were stranded on a desert island all their life with no Bible?
Romans 1:18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
God cares and loves all of humanity and has made it possible for every human being to choose to follow Jesus Christ, no matter what their circumstances are. Today you have heard that God loves you as much as any other person and only wants your heart to be mended. He is the very essence of hope and has open His arms and invited you to receive His comfort. Enter into His mercy and grace. Start reading the book of John and meet this Jesus who cares about your hurting heart.
I hope this answers a few of your questions on this topic. You are not going crazy, you are not in serious trouble, you’re just being a normal person who has been confronted with mortality. Please feel free to speak to one of CFC’s Elders or Pastors for more insight.
-Pastor Paris Pasch
Senior Pastor of Christ’s Family Church