Read Job 1:17-19
While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, "The Chaldeans formed three groups and made a raid on the camels and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you." While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, "Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother's house, and behold, a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to tell you."
• How does the loss of a loved one test your faith?
• What should we do during those circumstances?
• Jesus comforts us in our grief and reminds us of the hope we have in life everlasting with Him. (How can God help you?)
The loss of a loved one causes pain beyond words, leaving a giant hole in our hearts and our lives. In these verses, Job experienced that hurt ten times over as he learned that all of his children had perished.
Our bodies are perishable; that fact is unavoidable. Yet whether its approach is seen from a distance in the form of a terminal illness or it comes suddenly as a great wind across the wilderness (see Job 1:19), death deals a cruel blow. When a loved one dies, we have many practical details to deal with--people to notify, funeral arrangements to make, and the deceased's belongings to distribute. These details provide some distractions in the early days of grief, giving us something to focus on and do. They don't take away from the fact, though, that we now must go on living without this person who meant so much to us.
Losing a loved one can test our faith. We may question why a loving God would allow this tragedy. It may bring to mind our own mortality and what will happen to us when we die. Some come out of this grieving period with a stronger faith. Others remained trapped in anger and resentment. How do we hold on to our faith through loss?
During His time on earth, Jesus experienced the loss of loved ones. Many theologians believe that His earthly father, Joseph, died before Jesus began His ministry. The Gospels report three instances of Jesus raising someone from the dead. When He encountered a widow in Nain who was burying her son, Jesus had compassion for her (Luke 7:11-17). He reassured Jairus that his daughter would be well (Luke 8:50). Seeing the grief of Mary and Martha at the death of Lazarus, Jesus wept (John 11:35).
These verses can provide comfort when we are grieving our own losses. They reassure us that we have a Savior who understands our pain. Our Lord is not surprised by our tears and sends His Spirit to comfort us as we mourn.
The death of a Christ follower also has a particular bittersweet quality. It brings the pain and loss of departure combined with the hope of a future reunion. Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 (NLT): "And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died."
For many churches, this hope is reflected in the practice of referring to funerals as a "home going" service. Remembering that death is not the end of the story for a believer and that our loved one who knew Jesus in life is now rejoicing in His presence provides a measure of comfort.
Lord, it's so hard to lose the people I cherish. Please comfort me in my grief and help me to trust You amid the tears. Amen.