"Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
No one wants or enjoys the process of losing a loved one. It may often be one of the worst things that can happen to us, because for most there are very few people who we are close to in this world. The more friends and family we see pass on to the grave, the more we consider life after death and what the kingdom of Heaven will be like for us. We long to see those who left us behind that we know are there. Sometimes the means and timing surrounding a loved one’s passing makes the situation all the more difficult. There comes a point in time when you will be in your darkest point of life and feel great loss, grief, or hopelessness. In that moment you will have a spiritual-defining opportunity to either be a lamp to a dark world or a potential stumbling block by wallowing in that grief and sorrow. As we know, the born-again Christian always has life. This therefore gives us a reason to celebrate that life over the initial shock and mourning of that loss. Following the shock and mourning there should be a road to recovery through Christ, which allows us to get on our feet. If we allow ourselves to soak in misery, we communicate to the world that Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection gives us no power over the grave.
Many would find my choice of scripture to represent this topic (Matthew 14:1-16) to be odd considering it covers two different events in the Bible, with one being a pretty significant miracle (feeding of the 5,000). That is exactly the reason that I chose this particular section. It perfectly displays the process of grieving and recovery by none other than Christ himself. Jesus went through all of the steps that we mentioned here earlier. Knowing that Jesus was both man and God tells us that Jesus would have also experienced every emotion that an average man could also experience. I can not imagine many experiences or emotions that He could not have been through by his early thirties when Jesus would go on to be crucified. Anger, hunger, temptation, loss, frustration, and even awkwardness are just a few of the feelings experienced. It is how he handled them that allows us to gain the most knowledge and spiritual maturity from the process.
Imagine that you had been chosen Messiah and were only blood related to one of your parents. You learn that your cousin who had been chosen (who was also prophesied about in scripture) to warn the people of your coming had been viciously murdered. How would this make you feel? It must have obviously been a hard blow to the gut of Jesus. He may have very well had discernment and heavenly foreknowledge of John’s death, but given this was the first interaction where Jesus would actually hear the news of John’s death from a human person must have surely grieved Him. Even if Jesus had reason to celebrate the eternal life of John the Baptist, He had justification for some grief simply for the way that His messengers’ remains were disrespected by his head being served on a platter. This news would have surely started what I call the initial news shock. A cousin, messenger of God, and righteous man slain by the request of a little girl for her evil mother.
After the initial shock of the news, I would expect anyone in Jesus’ position according to that scripture to need a time of mourning and grieving. The scripture tells us that Jesus went away by ship into a private area. Many of us prefer the comfort of our homes with family and friends surrounding us, while some may prefer to be alone. Whatever your method, find one. However you grieve do not skip this process. If you refuse to go through the emotion and deal with the loss now, it will certainly come up later. The problem with later is that it often interrupts us during critical moments causing even more pain than it would have if dealt with from the beginning. Many times, this is seen in soldiers after war who do not get proper time to grieve and recover. They often revert to alcohol as a way to cope and this is certainly not what we aim to do as a soldier or civilian. This is a time when you grieve however you feel necessary. The great news is that we do not have to escape this process with substances as Jesus is right by our side, waiting for us to put our heads on His shoulders. Most cry, but some choose to sob, weep, and scream. Whatever you do, just make sure to find comfort in God. Take time away from the company of loved ones to pay attention to what God has to to say with prayer, reflection, and the reading of His Word.
Speaking of prayer, reflection and reading of His Word; these are the very same ways to best help with the next step in the process which is what I call the road to recovery. You may begin strong only to have bad days or start with bad days and have great days. Wherever you find yourself struggling, God can help you get it on track. In the loss of a parent or guardian who raised you, the process may take longer than for others. You must find the strength in Christ to bring you to raise up off the bed in the morning and stand against all odds to live for Him. This road to recovery begins immediately after the initial mourning and grieving process. There may be short period of time which they overlap, but after the burial of that loved one there has to be a time when we find the strength that we need in God to keep moving. During this step is when we find ourselves headed back to work or business. The constant reminder of that lost loved one may be waiting for us as each person we are seeing for the first time since the loss reminds us. It’s funny how some people often offer to help “wherever they can”, but are not ever around when we need them. Those people may show up during this step and others who we care about may simply disappear because the enemy is looking for every way he can to be involved. The devil wants you to think of yourself as not worthy as living this life now that you suffered loss and that you are on your way to death yourself. You will be told in various ways that your quality of life will not be what it was when this person lived. All that is lie from hell and should be met with the Word of God. Whenever we hear the lies of the enemy, just shouting the name of Jesus will push it all away. If that is the only thing we can think to do in that moment, use it. God’s Word tells us that we are created in “His image” and our life is worthy of living because we are to live it for Him. Since He was willing to lay down the life of His only son, we should be willing to live ours for Him. Because Jesus overcame death, hell, and the grave today; we have a reason to shout His name any time. It is because of Him that we have hope for eternal life today.
After we have walked the road to recovery we can begin to get back on our feet. Once God has had the time to offer His love, healing, and restoration; we can re-define who we are with a new strength built as a result of the loss we suffered. This step may not come easy and may not always be quick. It is different for everyone and the journey is as unique as the individual experiencing the loss. However we accomplish it, if it is by God we will be well back on our way to being a functioning witness for Christ. If we refuse God in this process, we throw away the hope of our suffering being a witness to those who are lost around us. As Christians always have observers watching us in every moment, the same holds true during a time of trial. If we fail after a normal time of grieving to move on in Christ, others will see this. They will also assume it is due to our own lack of faith that we have not recovered from our loss. Even though loss is painful regardless of the spiritual state of the loss loved one, people often overlook this when they are not in that person’s shoes. Playing the tough guy routine and sucking up the pain within would never be the suggested policy of this ministry, however leaning on God for understanding and strength during these times would be. Relying on Christ for the strength to get through helps us better cope while also maintaining the confidence in us by non-believers. Many of them would never admit they are watching you during a time of suffering, but you can believe they are. Most non-believers admire the strength of Christians when things don’t look very sunny. Just look at how America is often the hope that everyone expects in the world during a time of tragedy such as WWII. Do you think this is because we were just a military power, or that we also offer the hope and strength of Christ because God has blessed us with that? Let us do just as Jesus and use the power of God within us to make moves for the Kingdom of God even amidst the pain of death in our life. When we act in faith in rebellion to the suffering as the result of “the fall”, we rub the cross of Calvary in the enemy’s face. Instead of just taking away a saint of God in this cold world, he now gets to see us help add more parts to the body of Christ.
In reading this we pray that whenever and whoever our loss, we can find hope in God. It is obvious that Jesus suffered as many of us do from the loss of a dear loved one. It is the process in which He handled it himself, that we can find useful for ourselves in similar situations. I pray that no one suffers from the loss of a loved one due to martyrdom, but trust in God to help you through it no matter the circumstances. Jesus may have been more than just a man, but what got him through the process as fast has He did was His focus. Jesus understood that his life here on earth was only a short minuscule length of time compared to eternity. He knew He had the Father’s business to attend to, which gave him the strength to get through. We ourselves must find this strength within, given by God. Now, let us be about the Father’s business!
Matthew 14:1-16 (KJV)
14 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus,
2 And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him.
3 For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife.
4 For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her.
5 And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet.
6 But when Herod's birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod.
7 Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask.
8 And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist's head in a charger.
9 And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath's sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her.
10 And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison.
11 And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother.
12 And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus.
13 When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities.
14 And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.
15 And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals.
16 But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat.
Genesis 1:27 (KJV)
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
Hebrews 9:27 (KJV)
27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
Matthew 25:46 (KJV)
46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
John 5:24-25 (ESV)
24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.
John 3:16 (KJV)
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Revelation 21:4 (KJV)
4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
1 Samuel 30:6 (KJV)
6 And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.
Psalm 9:9 (KJV)
9 The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.