One of the greatest sufferings we face as humans is the grief of losing a loved one to death. And one of the greatest areas of hope God offers in His Word has to do with this very matter of death. Jesus defeated death on the cross. He secured eternal life with Him for all His followers. But it can be difficult, as a Christian and particularly as a biblical counselor, to rightly process and respond to both the sorrow of death and the joy of eternal life. What should we think and feel about these things? And how can we help others who are struggling with loss to think and feel biblically as well?
Rebekah Hannah has written a helpful article for the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors that highlights how Jesus responded to death when His friend Lazarus died. The article is titled, “When Jesus Wept.” I have included a few quoted paragraphs below, but I highly recommend taking the time to read the whole article if you can.
When Jesus weeps over death in the Bible, he physically and emotionally responds to the pain and suffering around him. He doesn’t hide his emotions. He explicitly takes time to be deeply moved not only externally but also at a heart level. It is not an act. It is not unnatural. The level of care and the multi-faceted emotional response that Jesus had towards death came from genuine concern and love for those who were touched by death’s sting.
Death deserves sackcloth and ashes. Jesus was willing to sit in the pain of those whom he loved. Because we know Jesus’ example was always perfect, we see that mourning in the face of death does not indicate faithlessness. Far from faithlessness, these appropriate feelings toward death indicate genuine and heartfelt sorrow at the reality of suffering.
While we can rejoice that Christ has conquered death, Jesus’ weeping over the death of Lazarus shows us that the certainty of future resurrection does not mean that loss of life no longer brings pain. It only means that in this deep pain we must seek to understand it in the context of a greater hope; a hope that is surer than death. But the pain of death is still pain – deep, abiding and often sharp pain.
While God is faithful to change hearts and minds in the lives of His children, we also understand that change is a process, and often times far from simplistic or quick. Habits of life and thinking tend to change over time as the Holy Spirit works in hearts. This process of change is called “progressive sanctification.” It can be helpful and sometimes necessary to seek help from other Christians who can faithfully lead and walk with us, providing biblical encouragement and instruction along the way for the implementation of God-honoring, Christ-centered change. If you are struggling with life’s challenges, we would encourage you to seek help from your pastor, a godly friend, or a biblical counselor who is committed to seeking answers from God’s Word. To find a biblical counselor you can contact us or visit biblicalcounseling.com to find a counselor in your area.
Born and raised in the Dallas area, Ryan loves calling Texas his home. He met his wife Jessica at Grace Bible Fellowship Church, where he serves on staff and is a counselor for Grace Biblical Counseling Ministries. Since 2013 he has been a member of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, and in May 2015 he graduated from Moody Bible Institute with a B.S. in Ministry Leadership.