Saturday, March 9, 2013

Resurrection Hope -- Real Comfort For The Grieving

I believe in the resurrection. Not the one that my former Catholic religion taught. Not the one that many people in most Protestant religions believe in. I believe in the one that Bible quite clearly relates. At least four specific instances are related of people who died and were brought back to life—on earth. Perhaps one of the most notable is the one where Jesus resurrected his friend Lazarus. The details of that account make it plain that Lazarus was dead for about four days. His relatives thought the situation was hopeless and commented that Lazarus’ body was surely already decaying (they mentioned the stench of the dead body). Yet Jesus brought Lazarus back to life. He was whole in body and sound in mind.

During a conversation Jesus had with one of Lazarus’ sisters, prior to Jesus performing the resurrection, she mentioned that she knew that the then existing scriptures (the Hebrew writings) taught that there would be a resurrection back to human life. (No concept of life in another form or another world or another dimension was even alluded to in the scriptures the Jews (Israelites, Hebrews) used in that day.) In agreement with this belief and in confirmation of it, Jesus brought her brother back to life on earth. The difference in the resurrection to come is that death will be completely eliminated. There is not going to be some endless cycle of resurrection and death. (Revelation 21:4)

Having this conviction, I am actually offended to read on the web various teachings that try to make death a friend and not the enemy the Bible says it is. – 1 Corinthians 15:26 In reading some of those sites, they attempt to “comfort” mourners with what amounts to nothing but philosophical human lies. So what comfort can be extended to someone who believes what the Bible says about death and resurrection?

I have actually had several friends who have lost family and friends to death. I myself have lost several loved ones, which is what prompted me to reflect on what would have truly comforted me. I came up with the following:

Remember The Hope: When we trust that Jehovah keeps his servants in mind and never forgets, even passed their death and over the void of time, we can be encouraged that our dead loved-one is not gone and forgotten for all time. Even if our memory starts to fade, God's does not fade and when that person is resurrected, we will readily recognize them.

Write Your Memories: When you lose a loved one in death, sit down and write a list of what you appreciated about that person--be specific, write as many details as you can remember, all your fond memories.  Put that list in your wallet, taking it out and reviewing it from time to time. Over time you may find that you are adding even more to the list.

On occasions when you decide to review that list, do so while in prayer to Jehovah and thanks to him for those memories and wonderful traits your loved one had. Express to God how much you appreciate the ransom of his dear son, Jesus, paid in sacrificing his life so that we can even have a hope of seeing our loved ones alive again. Tell Jehovah you are looking forward to seeing that person because of everything you've written in your notes. In that way, like Jehovah, you are keeping the positive and encouraging memory of that loved one alive.

Write Events: Another positive action you can take is to keep a log of all the things that happened after your loved one died. These are things that you want to tell that person after they are resurrected.  True, you may not actually ever review that with the resurrected one, but the point is you are keeping the positive memory alive and taking positive action to make the memory a good thing instead of falling into despair and bottomless (negative) sorrow.

The benefit that both of these writing exercises is that instead of feeling helpless and that there is "nothing you can do," now you feel you are doing something that will eventually work to a happy reunion. It also keeps us motivated to be loyal to God so we can be in the new world when our loved one is resurrected.

Accept Your Grieving Process, It Is Normal: Finally, remember that there is nothing wrong with grieving. Sadness over a loss is very normal and natural. There will even be times when reviewing the notes mentioned above, that you will probably break down and cry. But even in those saddest of times, always remember that our enemy, death, will be done away with. In the meantime, allow yourself to grieve and motivate yourself to turn it into a positive memory.

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