Series 2 - Bible Answers for...
Hello, friends. The death of a loved one is heartbreaking. And each bereavement
has its special set of sorrows and other strong emotions. There is the
sorrow that comes suddenly and shockingly with an unexpected death, and
there is the long sorrow of gradually losing someone during a terminal
illness. The untimely death of a child is especially devastating.
Consider a man and wife who have had a long and loving marriage. As God
told Adam and Eve, they have become "one flesh." When one dies, the surviving
spouse usually feels forsaken, empty, lonely and torn in two. And, of
course, similar feelings are evoked when any loved one dies.
When you love someone, you become vulnerable to the sorrow that comes
from losing that person. But love is all-important, and God doesn't want
us to hold back on loving people to avoid future grief. The Bible also
makes it clear that our grief will be temporary, while our joy will be
forever! The Bible gives us the hope of a fabulous future when we will
be reunited with our loved ones!
Lesson: Dealing With the Death of a Loved One
In this lesson we'll study what the Bible reveals about death, about God's promise of life after death, how to comfort one another and how to obtain God's gift of comfort and peace.
Don Hooser, a minister in Washington, relates this story about his
"In 1952, when I was 11, my brother Roddy died. At age 3½, he was a
super cute and lovable kid. Our family was devastated. No one close
to me had ever died (except my beloved pet dog). It felt like the end
of the world. Today I still choke up when I talk about Roddy.
"Over the years, I have often reflected on how God used Roddy's death
to work together for much good (Romans 8:28).
"The most profound effect on our family was a greater seriousness about
God and the Bible. Even though I didn't stay serious throughout my teen
years, always in the back of my mind was the thought: 'I've got to do
whatever it takes to see Roddy again.' I know that thought was a major
factor in making me, at age 21, receptive to God's calling.
"After that I introduced my three brothers to God's truth, which led
to them, one by one, coming into God's Church. Since then we brothers
have been blessed with marriage and children, so the knowledge of God's
wonderful truth is being passed on to children and grandchildren. Roddy's
death has had a profound, far-reaching effect."
Share Your Story
Hope and Comfort
Let's go straight to the most comforting truth in all the Bible—God's
revelation regarding the resurrections from the dead! The Bible says that
at the return of Jesus Christ, everyone who has been a faithful follower
of Him will be raised in the "first resurrection" (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18;
But what about "the rest of the dead" (Revelation 20:5)? They will be
resurrected in the second resurrection. People assume that the
only time God can call and save someone is in this life—before the person
dies. But a careful study of the Scriptures shows a little understood
but comforting truth: All the people who don't receive God's saving knowledge
in this life are not lost—they will be resurrected to a physical life
in the second resurrection. When Christ is King over all the earth, He
will make sure that everyone receives the knowledge of God's
plan that offers eternal life to all who believe and obey Him!
You can find detailed studies of these resurrections in other lessons.
The second coming of Christ and the first resurrection are explained in Lesson
8, and the second resurrection is explained in Lesson
15 of the "Bible Prophecy and You" series in these Bible Study
The big point for this lesson is this: God will give everyone who
has ever lived—from Adam and Eve on—the gift to be able to understand
the Bible and to choose to repent, change and accept the gift of eternal
life in God's Kingdom! This indeed is God's most comforting revelation!
What is the primary way that the Bible portrays death?
He said to them, "Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may
wake him up."
John goes on to relate how Jesus raised Lazarus from death to life (John
11:12-45). In the Bible, death is often referred to as sleep—a
total lack of consciousness (Psalm 13:3; Ecclesiastes 9:5). The beautiful
metaphor of sleep emphasizes the fact that the first death is temporary
and that everyone who dies will be awakened!This understanding of death
is much more comforting than all the unbiblical and erroneous ideas about
When someone dies, family and friends often suffer with regrets and feelings
of guilt about things they had said or done, or things they neglected
to say or do. But God doesn't want us to beat ourselves up about the past.
He wants us to repent of our sins and look forward to our reunion in the
next life, when we will have plenty of opportunities to talk to our loved
Does the Bible portray death as an enemy?
1 Corinthians 15:22, 26
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive…
The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.
God created us with a kind of instinct for self-preservation, and the
Bible portrays death as our enemy. But after the return of Christ, "death
[will be] swallowed up in victory" (1 Corinthians 15:54).
who is close to God can, in one sense, look forward to death, as Paul
did (Philippians 1:21-24). But what he or she is really looking
forward to is not death itself, but waking up with a new spirit body
in God's Kingdom!
What does the Bible say about grieving over the death of a loved
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
1 Thessalonians 4:13
But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have
fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.
It's normal and healthy to grieve when we lose the companionship of a
loved one. Those who repress grief rather than expressing it suffer more
emotional problems in the long run. But healthy grieving depends on facing
the reality of death. In today's humanistic culture that is obsessed with
prolonging human life, many people avoid preparing for death or even discussing
this topic. Feeling it is taboo to even say the word "died," people will
use a euphemism like "passed." Denying death makes it harder for people
to grieve and support one another and heal.
Those who truly understand the Bible feel and express grief, not fear
and despair; their hope and faith give them great comfort. The apostle
Paul, right after explaining about the promise of the resurrection, said,
"Therefore comfort one another with these words" (1 Thessalonians 4:18).
(During a time of grief, please avoid two common and serious mistakes:
Don't try to "drown your sorrows" with alcohol or drugs. And don't neglect
your sleep and good nutrition. Getting sick will only greatly add to your
Is God pleased with reminiscing, crying and laughing?
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
John 11 tells the story of Lazarus's death and resurrection. Notice that
not only did Jesus not criticize the family and friends of Lazarus for
weeping, He also wept (John 11:35). The Bible teaches us to sympathize
and empathize with others who are grieving. After someone's death, it
is important for loved ones and friends to spend time together and to
reminisce and talk about their precious memories—memories that bring forth
warm reflection, tears and laughter. When someone wants to talk about
a deceased loved one, be an attentive listener. Don't change the subject.
How do our trials and sorrows prepare us to help others?
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of
mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation,
that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the
comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
Our trials benefit us if we learn compassion for others, and the comfort
we receive should teach us how to give comfort. We especially
mustn't overlook the needs of children or hide death from them. After
a death, they often don't know what to think and say, what questions to
ask or how to express their emotions. They need understanding, comfort
and reassurance and need to be filled with love, security and hope. They
need to be with family, sharing in the discussions, grieving and healing.
What are some ways I can help others during their time of sorrow?
1 John 3:16, 18 (Good News Translation)
This is how we know what love is: Christ gave his life for us. We too,
then, ought to give our lives for others!... My children, our love should
not be just words and talk; it must be true love, which shows itself
Words of comfort have a powerful healing effect, but more than words
is needed. Remember that the family of someone who has just died is faced
with innumerable decisions and arrangements in addition to daily chores.
It is frustrating and depressing to lose a loved one and hardly have time
to think because you are frantically rushing from one responsibility to
the next. So it can be helpful to offer specific help to families in mourning.
And if you are in mourning, be willing to gratefully accept offers of
What spiritual lessons can we learn from life's losses and sorrows?
Ecclesiastes 7:2-4 (New International Version)
It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting,
for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to
heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for
the heart. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the
heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.
Everyone needs times to laugh and dance, but we also need times to weep
and mourn (Ecclesiastes 3:4). Spiritual growth takes place more in difficult
times than in easy times. When a loved one dies, it's a valuable time
to reflect on your own mortality and your relationship with God. It has
been said, "An open casket can be worth a thousand sermons." Some people
avoid funerals and avoid visiting people in hospitals and nursing homes
because these situations make them feel uncomfortable and unhappy. But
to be a healer, you must go where people are hurting. If you do, your
unselfishness will help you mature and grow.
What is the greatest source of understanding and comfort?
[God] heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
For whatever things were written before [in the Bible] were written for
our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures
might have hope.
God is that Source! Our Creator knows our hearts and always knows best
how to help us. All the answers to life's questions are in His Bible.
When we are grief-stricken, if we will talk to God and read His Word,
we will experience great comfort, hope and healing. Prayer and Bible study
are the two things we need to do every day of our lives.
Will suffering and sorrow come to an end?
"And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall
be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain,
for the former things have passed away."
Not only will families be reunited, but we'll all be in one big happy
family—the family of God! And that family will live forever—with no more
death, sorrow or crying!
As we learned in Ecclesiastes 7, when you think of someone else's death,
it's an important time to think about your own life and inevitable death.
As Ecclesiastes 9:12 says, "Man also does not know his time"—we don't
know in advance when death will come. Therefore, it behooves us to get
prepared and stay prepared (2 Peter 3:11).
How about starting right now by making a simple list of things you need
to do in the very near future? If you haven't made a will and left instructions
for your family, be sure to include those points. If you haven't told
family and friends often enough that you love them, write that down. And
if you need to get right with God, be sure to include that on your list.
Set realistic deadlines to tackle the items on your list.
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A Message of
Hope Following the Death of a Loved One
Steps in Dealing
Unbelieving Loved Ones
Why Does God Allow Suffering?