How do you deal with the death of a loved one and the questions and fears it raises? What happens when you die? Is there an afterlife? What about resurrection? All of these questions have answers in the Bible. You can face death with courage, faith, and hope. Learn three ways how to cope with grief in this episode of Tomorrow's World.
[The text below represents an edited transcript of this Tomorrow’s World program.]
Imagine the scene; family and friends gathered together. Beautiful flowers adorn the coffin, as well-wishers file in. Words of encouragement are given and tears flow. At the funeral of a loved one, there is often deep sorrow, especially when the deceased is someone cut off early in life—a child, or a young person, with so much promise of life and vibrancy, now gone. Or the loss of a devoted husband or wife. A companion for decades perhaps. And now, the survivor must carry on alone.
How do you approach the death of a loved one? If you’ve faced it, you know how it feels. When a loved one dies, we grieve, we mourn, we have a hole in our heart. It’s difficult and it hurts. And sometimes the pain lasts for years. And we may ask: If God is good and all-powerful, why am I suffering so much?
There is a way to face death with boldness, courage, and hope. God’s word assures that, and gives us practical and timeless advice.
Welcome to Tomorrow’s World, where we help you make sense of your world through the pages of the Bible. Not long ago, a dear friend of mine and colleague in this Work died. I was asked to say a few words at his funeral. I’ve always found it challenging but profoundly rewarding to speak on behalf of someone who dies. Life is a precious gift. And, especially if one has lived a long and full life, there are so many things to say. His or her life is like a diamond that sparkles as you turn it. You see experiences, traits, qualities of strength, and yes, even a few weaknesses. It’s the sum of their life. How do you encapsulate it in just a few minutes? And yet what an honor it is to speak on behalf of a beloved friend or loved one at a time like this.
When a loved one dies, we grieve. And many struggle with how to get through. Especially in these times of grievous diseases, how do we cope? In this episode of Tomorrow’s World, we’ll talk about three ways to face death with courage and faith.
If you are a regular viewer, you know that at Tomorrow’s World we hold to the Bible as the Truth, the word of God. It has the answers to the big questions of life. And so, when we talk about death and grieving, and how to cope, the absolute first key is:
1. Look to the Bible for answers and comfort.
I know most of you don’t have to be convinced to read your Bible, especially when you’re down and struggling. Many of you hold the Bible in high esteem. But some of you watching may not yet be sure about the Bible. You may have heard it’s just a collection of myths and legends, writings of men. Your understanding of the Bible may only be what others have told you about it. Maybe your views have been formed by your friends or coworkers, or even the popular media. If so, you most likely have misconceptions about what it really says. When it comes to matters of life and death, the Bible’s the only book that even claims to have the real answers.
Give it a second chance. Consider what I’m saying. And when you’re in tough times, remember—the Bible has answers.
There was a man named Job who lived many thousands of years ago. Job was tried severely in his life. He lost loved ones, tragically, sons and daughters, in one day. He struggled to understand and even blamed God for his troubles, at one point. It shook his faith to the foundations. But at the end of the day, he put his trust in God and the hope of the resurrection. In Job 14:14, he said this:
“If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait, till my change comes. You shall call, and I will answer You; You shall desire the work of Your hands” (Job 14:14-15).
Job believed in the resurrection from the dead. He believed that after death, the dead will rise. God will call and they'll answer him. And you can read from one end of the Bible to the other, and you’ll find the affirmation of life after death. This life is not the end. Death is not permanent.
When Jesus was on this earth, He was God in the flesh. What did He say about life and death? Notice in John chapter 5 and verse 28:
“Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28-29).
Jesus said, there is life after death. The dead will rise. There’s something yet in the future. These are the words of the Son of God Himself. And He can tell us definitely, because He Himself rose from the dead.
Paul speaks of the resurrection of Jesus Christ in 1 Corinthians chapter 15. In fact, the whole chapter is about the resurrection. Notice what Paul said in verse 12:
“Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” (1 Corinthians 15:12).
You see, it’s nothing new that some don’t believe in the resurrection. In every age, there have been those who doubted. And yet Paul explained that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was witnessed by hundreds of people. And many of them were still alive when he wrote this. Going on in 1 Corinthians chapter 15,
“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that he was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:3-6).
Now think about this for a moment. Paul was saying that there were at least a couple hundred brethren, at the time of this writing, who had seen the risen Christ and were still around to tell about it. If you’re not sure whether you can believe the Bible, consider this testimony. If this wasn’t true, would Paul have dared make this bold assertion? If Jesus Christ really hadn’t been resurrected, why would Paul stake his reputation on it? And why would Paul give His life for it, as well as the other apostles?
So, what’s the point? When we look at the Bible, we’re given an understanding that there's something coming after death. The Bible is unique in offering this hope. It’s special in that it gives us a glimpse of what happens after death. Only the Bible can give that kind of comfort. And when we lose a husband, a wife, a child, or a close friend, we can turn to the Bible for encouragement. In fact, we must turn to the Bible for comfort, for where else can we get real answers?
The Bible gives the answers to the important questions of life and death.
When a loved one dies, we grieve and we’re sad. Our heart is broken and we feel a profound emptiness. Some feel guilt for surviving while their mate dies. Others feel stuck, like they’ll never get over the loss. But how do we cope with death? In the first segment of this program we saw that it’s vital we look to the Bible for answers and hope. But there’s more. The second key is:
2. Reach out to others who care and who can help.
When a loved one dies, there is a tendency to retreat within ourselves. We may feel like isolating ourselves and pulling away from others. But is that healthy?
In the Western world, we have traditions and ceremonies to honor the dead and comfort the living. Family and friends gather to lend support and encouragement. Eulogies about the deceased are often given. We are saddened by the occasion and may shed a tear. But on the other hand, hearing about the life and accomplishments and even a humorous anecdote or two about our loved one, is healing and therapeutic.
I’m always touched when attending a funeral and learning more deeply about another person’s life. It’s profound to hear what a son or granddaughter or other relative relates about what was important to their loved one. Those memories are precious. They are especially profound when shared by someone who knew the person well. And they should be shared. Though the process is a bit painful, we all benefit by hearing the stories of a child of God who’s finished his or her race.
Too many people want to hide their eyes from mourning and sorrow. And in doing this, they often pull away from individuals in their life who can help them the most. Being surrounded by people who love us is vital to working through the grieving process. When death occurs, we need to accept the efforts of others to comfort us. They may not always know what to say. There may be awkward moments. But they’re trying to help—and it’s good to accept that help.
Many people today are alone and lonely. The pandemic has made isolation more acute and more painful. And as human beings, we need one another. And that is true especially during times of distress and loss.
The gospels record that Jesus wept when His friend died. Let’s look at that in John chapter 11 and verse 33:
“Therefore, when Jesus saw her [that is, Mary] weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the Spirit and was troubled. And He said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to Him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus wept” (John 11:33-35).
This wasn’t a show. He wasn’t making believe. Jesus cared deeply for His friend. But He wasn’t just weeping for Lazarus. He was mourning for everyone, for He saw the suffering and distress they all had.
In this instance, Jesus actually brought back Lazarus to life. Now, He didn’t do that every time someone died. But here there was a specific purpose He was working out. The point is, this Scripture shows He cared for people and had compassion for them. When others are hurting, we need to reach out to them as well.
Young people suffer loss and pain, too. Sometimes as adults, we can forget that children and teens experience distress when they see a grandparent or other relative dying. They might be confused about what’s happening, especially if they are small. And they might even be confused by their own emotions. They may not even show emotion. They may act out in certain ways, and misbehave. There are numerous websites that give advice on helping young people grieve. Here are a few suggestions one website gives to teens, called KidsHealth.org, for those who have suffered loss:
1. Express Feelings and Find Support
If you are a young person and watching this program, and you have suffered loss, don't be afraid to reach out to others who care. Be strong, you can get through this. Stay engaged, and reach out to your parents, and teachers, and other adults you trust.
Another suggestion for teens suffering loss is:
2. Find Meaning
We touched on this in the first part of our program. Oftentimes, times of sorrow and suffering cause us to ask the big questions of life: Why am I here? What’s it all about? Don’t shy away from these questions. Searching for answers is healing in itself.
And here’s a final tip on the website:
3. Take Care of Yourself
It’s easy to let down on the things that keep us strong and healthy. We might lose sleep. We might lose interest in exercising. We might be less careful about what we eat. But taking care of yourself physically is actually vital in working through a time of grief.
What’s another key to handling death in a positive and hopeful way?
3. Seek for the purpose of life.
You see, to understand death, you first have to understand life. Why are you here? What does your life mean? Are the evolutionists right? Are you just the result of billions of proteins that just happened to be zapped by a lightning bolt and mashed together in a random way that all works together harmoniously and perfectly? No, the truth is, we are the children of God. We’ve been made in God's image.
In Genesis chapter one we find a brief history of the origin of mankind. I’ll read in verse 26:
“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…. So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:26-27).
Do you realize what that means? It means you look like God. Now, understand, in His glorified state, He’d be brighter than the sun to us. We could not see Him and live. But if we could look at Him in the spiritual realm, we would see Someone Who looks like us because we look like Him.
Now how can we know for sure? Notice in Genesis chapter 5 verse 3:
“And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth” (Genesis 5:3).
It’s the same phrase—made in his own likeness, after his image—that Genesis 1 said about God making mankind. Now, we have no problem understanding that Seth was a human being and looked like his father Adam, and his mother, Eve. So, why is it such a stretch to believe that we were made in the image of God? That we, if we could see God, would see that we look like Him?
Think about this. It means we are on a totally different plane than the animals. We were made to have a connection with God. And that connection with God gives us a destiny so much greater than the animals. There is a purpose to this life. This life is a time to grow in character—God’s character. We are here to come to understand God and His purpose and turn our hearts to Him. And ultimately, He is giving us the chance to live with Him, in the spirit realm, in His family forever. Notice 1 John chapter 3, verse 1:
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:1-2).
We shall be like Him, and we shall see Him as He is. That’s the purpose of life. The purpose of life is not to be extinguished, snuffed out forever, or drift off into nothingness. The purpose of life is to prepare for eternal life. Notice verse 3:
“And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:3).
So, we don’t just live our lives aimlessly, with no regard for tomorrow. We live for Christ, to be conformed to His character. And if we do that, and accept His sacrifice for our sins, and humbly ask Him to guide our lives, we’ll live forever. What an opportunity. Notice in Hebrews 2:6:
“But one testified in a certain place, saying: ‘What is man that You are mindful of him, or the son of man that You take care of him?”
Truly, why does God even notice us or care about us? We’re so insignificant compared to the enormous size of this planet, much less the size of the solar system or the Universe. And yet, God has created us for a purpose. Going on,
“You have made him a little lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, and set him over the works of Your hands. You have put all things in subjection under his feet.’ For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him” (Hebrews 2:7-8).
We don’t yet have “all things” put under our feet, as Paul goes on to explain. Because right now we’re only in the physical flesh. But when we enter life—real life, eternal life—we’ll receive our inheritance. And what does that mean?
Let me read from the booklet we’re offering today, What Happens When You Die? On page 33, Mr. Ames writes:
“‘Nothing’ not put under him? ‘All’ in subjection? Yes, this is the promise! The Greek phrase translated as ‘all’ in Hebrews 2:8 is ta panta – which literally means ‘the all.’ As Greek lexicons explain, ta panta in the absolute sense means ‘the universe.’ God wants to give you, along with billions of others, dominion not just over the earth, but over the universe!”
When you suffer the pain of loss and death from those close to you, don’t despair. There is hope. There is a future. Our whole life has been built around a plan that God is working out. The human family is a miracle. The fact that we can survive on this planet is astounding, when you realize how finely tuned our world must be to support life.
We’re not here by an accident. We’re here for a purpose, and that purpose gives us hope. Paul explains this in 1 Thessalonians 4.
“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” (1 Thessalonians 4:13).
This world is filled with philosophies and ideas [that] give no hope. What is there to hope for, if you believe that at death that’s it? Or, if you’re so terrified of the afterlife because of popular concepts [that] have no basis in reality?
But there is a way to face the death of a loved one with courage, faith and hope. And our Father in Heaven wants to give us comfort when we face these troubles in life. He comforts us, and He wants us to learn to comfort others. Notice in 2 Corinthians 1:3:
“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.”
The world is full of pain. But there is a purpose for suffering, and death is not the end. There’s much more to the plan. And as we look to God and walk with Him, and allow Him to guide our life, we’re going to understand that plan more and more. And we’ll be able to help others along their journey as well.
Thanks for watching! Remember to subscribe so you don’t miss another Tomorrow’s World video, and if you would like a copy of our free booklet What Happens When You Die?, go to TWTV.org/Death or click the link in the description. See you next time.
Is death the end of human existence? Will you be reincarnated? Will you “roll around heaven all day” with nothing to do for eternity? The amazing, encouraging truth of the matter is unknown to most people, yet it is found in the pages of your Bible! God has a plan for all of humanity—and a very special reward in store for today’s true Christians! What happens when we die, according to the Bible?