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Comfort Yourselves with These Words
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Today March 3rd, is our father’s birthday. I have consulted with my brother and sister and we, his three of his only three children, concur that he passed in 2004. Being unclear of that date is not as important as the day that he was born and that he lived! I know there are many that want to memorialize others by remembering the date of their deaths. I am not among them. Still, to those of us living in 1963, from the age of around five and upwards, we all know where we were when JFK (president John F. Kennedy), was shot. We can also recall, where we were and what we were doing on 9•11. We do not need an actual date for either, to recall these events and likely, with great detail.
If you have not experienced the death of a loved one, someone or anyone, it changes one or you, for the rest of your or their life. Those touched by death, grapple with its acceptance often denying it. They often wrestle with guilt and anger and perhaps, every stressful and unkind emotion. These are perfectly normal. When someone has occupied so much of your life, good, bad or indifferent, those areas may seem empty and need to be filled. Grief is normal and it is a process. Some believe we must live through an entire year, for this process to complete. I say, it is different in duration, for each person, but the phases are the same for all. Beyond these stages of grief, one has settled into an unhealthy binding to the past, and cannot they seem to let go, to move on— to live. I know of one person that may still be visiting the graves of a mother and a spouse daily, years after they had died. In the throes of grief, we all want to be consoled and comforted. Those of us, which care, want to console and comfort. But if one refuses to be consoled and comforted, they cannot be and we cannot give to them.
Friends and family and associates or those that for whatever reasons must be there, look for cards with the sentiments that would best offer some concern and comfort. We often send or bring flowers. Why not instead, live plants!
The most common things I have heard and have said myself (but not anymore), are:
“I’m so sorry for your loss!”
“If there is anything I can do…!”
Why should anyone or I be sorry? You or I did not likely cause this death! We are there in support yes? Think about what you would want anyone to say to you that would or could console and comfort you. Smile, be yourself, speak or write things that are positive; uplifting! Practice ahead of time, just never, ever say you’re sorry or don’t do this anymore! If you send or offer a greeting card, really look for something that not only says you care, but also offers hope, comfort or vision, for their future. If you cannot find such a card, make one!
Put yourself into their shoes. If you are asked what they could do for you in this intense time in your life, do you honestly think, you could think of something they could do for you? Probably not! Just don’t ever, never ask anyone this (or no more)! Think about and find something to do for them!
Oh then religion comes in, gets involved and tries so sincerely to comfort and console. And they tell us, these folks have gone on to heaven or they’re in heaven, their struggles are all over and their pain and suffering is no more, we are told these things and similar things and led to believe. We want to believe these things. They are still here only in a different form? They are watching over us? They are waiting for us to join them in heaven? All of this seems and sounds so sincere and with good intentions, to give us hope. A verse of scripture in the Bible seems to indicate that God wanted them in heaven and called them home.
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.”
Psalm 116:15, King James Version (KJV)
The way in which this verse is still being interpreted today, is that God almighty, the creator of the heavens and the universe needed another “rose petal in heaven”? He (God was, is), lonely and wanted our him or her to be with Him. I have a couple of issues with that! For one thing, how fair is it that our Dad has been enjoying heaven and the presence of God the Father, since 2004, when we three of his only children, are still here? Another issue I have is, is this really what God does, what is meant by this interpretation of His Word?
If you would look up the word “precious” in the Bible, the same word is used many times in context of costly, valuable, expensive and “precious” gems or jewels. So if “precious” is not an endearing thing as many are taught and believe, but a costly thing, what does God actually feel about someone’s death?
“Now after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord
it came to pass, that the Lord spake unto Joshua
the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying,”
Joshua 1:1 King James Version (KJV)
Joshua was Moses’ minister, his servant or understudy. After the death of Moses, God came to Joshua and spoke directly to him.
“Moses my servant is dead…”
Joshua 1:2a (KJV)
These five words, just five words, are perhaps the harshest sounding, most guttural expression to have been uttered and heard, in perhaps the entire Old Testament. God called Moses His friend [James 2:23 KJV]. This was quite a thing for God to say about anyone. It was a deep and personal relationship between them. It cost God a lot to have lost His friend. Moses was “precious” to Him! But in speaking to Joshua, did God memorialize Moses or speak some long eulogy? No, God just strongly emotes the fact that his friend had died and then, HE encourages Joshua to be “strong”, of a “good courage”, and to be “very courageous”, repeatedly!
“Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan,
thou, and all this people, unto the land
which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.
Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon,
that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.
From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river,
the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea
toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast.
There shall not any man be able to stand before thee
all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee:
I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide
for an inheritance the land, which I sware
unto their fathers to give them.
Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe
to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee:
turn not from it to the right hand or to the left,
that thou mayest prosper withersoever thou goest.
This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth;
but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou
mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein:
for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous,
and then thou shalt have good success.
Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage;
be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God
is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”
Joshua 1:2-9 King James Version (KJV)
How did Jesus Christ respond to those that he called to be disciples, who first wanted to go and bury their dead?
“But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.”
Matthew 8:22 (KJV)
What else did Jesus Christ say to those that had to bury their dead?
“Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead:
but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.”
Luke 9:60 (KJV)
Did Jesus Christ not care that people were grieving? Jesus Christ had a friend named Lazarus and he died. All that is recorded in the Bible about this is maybe the entire shortest scripture in all of God’s Word. Just two words—
John 11:35 (KJV)
Jesus Christ did not just shed a tear or a few. He “wept”! As it cost God a lot to have lost His friend Moses, it was costly to Jesus Christ, to have lost his friend Lazarus. We know from scripture that Jesus Christ would later raise Lazarus from the dead, but when he first heard of Lazarus dying, he was not free in the spirit to go to him as he was busy preaching and teaching the things of God. But he cared, he cared deeply and he cared a lot!
The Bible often uses the words as we read in Joshua, to “arise” and “go”. Leave the past behind, get up, get going, live and give! This is great advice for anyone that faces grief!
All that have lived in the past have all died, even Lazarus whom Jesus Christ “raised from the dead”.
In Hebrews 11 there is a list of people that had died and it ends with verse 13:
“These all died in faith [Greek pistis = believing], not having
received the promises, but having seen them afar off,
and were persuaded of them, and embraced them,
and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”
Hebrews 11: 13
“Strangers and pilgrims? Yes, we are all like on a road trip, stopping on occasion because we’re just passing through. Like a hymn says, “This world is not my home!”
All men and women are “appointed” to die because, the payment for being born in sin (it’s in our human DNA), is death. We can thank Adam and Eve for this, for they disobeyed God and the consequences were that they spiritually died the day they disobeyed God, and eventually, they died physically. They lived longer then, than we do now because, then, the blood lines were purer then. But they still died. All are “appointed” to die and all have or will die unless, something else takes place.
“And as it is appointed unto men [and women, children]
once to die, but after this the judgment:”
Remember, Jesus “raised” Lazarus “from the dead”. God “raised” Jesus Christ “from the dead”. It is interesting to note that in neither of these two events is the word ‘resurrection’ ever used. Lazarus was “raised from the dead”, but he later died and is still dead until, he is resurrected. Jesus Christ was also “raised from the dead”, but he remains alive forever. This is why his ordeal was not and is not a ‘resurrection’. In order for anyone to be resurrected they must first have died. There are two such resurrections in the Bible, the resurrection of the just and the resurrection of the unjust. Anyone should want to be in the first one and not the other one! But Jesus Christ died for all to be in the resurrection of the just IF, they chose or choose to accept it.
“For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived,
that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.”
When is Jesus Christ to be “Lord both of the dead and living”? At the resurrection, he is Lord of the dead and of the living. Until that time, all people that have died or will die have gone to or will go to hell, which is the kingdom of the dead. Yes, our father is in hell, the kingdom of the dead. But one day, he will be resurrected when Jesus Christ becomes lord of the dead and of the living. And then, death itself, which is called an “enemy” in the Bible, will be done away with.
Remember I wrote above that all are “appointed” to die unless something else occurs? For one thing, Jesus Christ was able to one day assume the title of Lord of the dead and the living. He had other titles including, the kinsman redeemer. A kinsman would be say your brother and if you died, they could marry your widow and raise up seed (offspring) on your behalf. A kinsman redeemer was usually the one closest to you in your family tree like a brother. Ruth had a kinsman redeemer, Boaz, who took her to wife. Boaz was not the closet kinsman, but he was a kinsman and he chose to redeem Ruth. Boaz and Ruth bore Obed who would later become the father of David the King. Jesus Christ through his mother Mary’s line would connect with David and therefore, Jesus Christ was legally the King of Judah, through David. But there was something else. Jesus Christ took flesh through his mother Mary and her line also went all the way back to Adam and Eve, the first man and woman. In the book of Romans, Jesus Christ is called, “the second Adam’. As the “second Adam” and the kinsman redeemer, he was legally able to redeem all of humankind from the curse that Adam & Eve had brought upon all. Then there is still, something else.
There are two things spoken of in the Bible:
To have incorruption, this mean one is no longer corruptible. When we die, we corrupt and become dust or ash. A future event to occur is that those part of the resurrection of the just that died, will put on incorruption (will no longer corrupt) and will no more die. The Bible is very specific about the words used.
In order for a mere mortal (subject to dying), to become immortal (no longer subject to death), they must be alive when this happens. More about this later.
But death is a hard thing to take normally without false hope, comfort and consolement. I have thought of my father often. I could see him in my mind alive, talking walking and etc. Our mother passed away, I believe in 1989. It was suggested to me that it might help if I wrote her a letter. I intellectually rejected that idea from all I have been discussing here, but emotionally, I did write that letter and it helped me greatly to heal! I’m not opposed to anyone talking to their loved one at their gravesite, their mausoleum, crypt or some urn where their ashes may have been placed or where their ashes might have been spread. I often say aloud (while alone), Hi Mom, Dad, Papa (grandfather), Nanny (grandmother), my friend Dave (Star), or to others I have lost over the years. I think of my father-in-law Bud when I’m out driving on back country roads he used to drive and have me lost in minutes, but now I know exactly where I am and I would say, “Thanks, Bud,” (I feel like he’d be proud of me). I live now in what used to be his home and my mother-in-law’s. We inherited a simple battery powered timer from her. It is kept just inside one of our cabinets. If you walk by in a certain way or open the door in a certain way, the timer frequently goes off. I always, say, “Hi Mom!” Many things can remind me of all those I have lost over my years.
A delightful and favorite movie of mine is, ‘Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium’! If you have never seen it, I highly recommend it. If you have watched this before, perhaps watch it again? At the near end of the movie, before Mr. Magorium dies, his says the following, which I find helpful in thinking about and dealing with death:
“When King Lear dies in Act V,
do you know what Shakespeare has written?
He’s written “He dies.” That’s all, nothing more.
No fanfare, no metaphor, no brilliant final words.
The culmination of the most influential work
of dramatic literature is “He dies.”
It takes Shakespeare, a genius, to come up with “He dies.”
And yet every time I read those two words,
I find myself overwhelmed with dysphoria.
And I know it’s only natural to be sad,
but not because of the words “He dies,”
but because of the life we saw prior to the words.
I’ve lived all five of my acts,…, and I am not asking you
to be happy that I must go. I’m only asking that you turn the page,
continue reading… and let the next story begin.
And if anyone asks what became of me, you relate my life
in all its wonder, and end it with a simple and modest “He died.”
I love you too. Your life is an occasion. Rise to it”
Excerpt from: Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium
I don’t want anyone to be happy about death or dying either. Death has a sting. It hurts. It is an enemy. It may leave lifelong scars, but those scars don’t have to always hurt. No one can ever replace someone we lose nor can anyone or anything fill those spaces in our lives where they lived, far too briefly or even many years. Those spaces are not empty, they are still full, with their memories. And we can share those with others as if, they were still with us. They are, in a sense. They live in us. But true comfort and consolation comes from hope, something not seen, just yet.
And this hope is that one day, the dead will put on incorruption (will never again corrupt or die), and we which are alive will put on immortality (will not die). This event Biblically is not referred to as a resurrection because, not everyone will be dead when it occurs. Like we call our home in the country on top of the hill ‘The Gathering Place’ what I wrote above, the Bible calls this, ‘The Gathering Together’. In Ephesians chapter 5, the Christian marriage of a husband and wife are supposed to be like a min-gathering together. It is our desire (my wife & I), that anyone that visits us, feels like they are part of mini-gathering together!
The Gathering Together is beyond compare and its glory and gladness cannot be imagined—
“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”
I Corinthians 2:9, (KJV)
This “Gathering Together is at the time of, the return of Christ. The Bible uses a specific event and this is when he comes “for his saints.” It is also what the Bible calls his “coming for his church”.
“Saints” are heaven’s holiest. This group (the saints), include:
“the dead in Christ”
all Christians now living
those Christians “alive” at his return
“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump:
for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible,
and we shall be changed.”
I Corinthians 15:22 KJV
Not all will be dead so, there is no need to resurrect them. But all alive or dead, all will be changed at The Gathering Together!
“Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming
of our Lord Jesus Christ, and
by our gathering together unto him,
“That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled,
neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us,
as that the day of Christ is at hand.
II Thessalonians 2:1-2 KJV
Although it may seem comfortable or hope that our father who died in 2004, may be flitting with wings around a city with streets of gold and in the presence of God, this is false hope and cannot be validated in the Bible because, it’s just not there. I am glad too because, my human side would be envious that our Dad has been enjoying about 16 years of bliss and blessings and I’m still here. And this would make God a respecter of persons and the Bible says, He is Not!
Now remember, the dead in Christ get up first “then” those that are alive at the return of Christ will be gathered together. “Then” is a word that denotes time. How much time is there between these two events? I do not know and the Bible does not say! But our dad will get up before me, if I am a live at the return of Christ. And there is another great thing about time. When our father took his last breath, there was and is no more suffering, pain or anguish with him, no awareness of time or consciousness. It’s like taking a nap or sleeping through the night and then we wake up, as if not much time had passed at all.
“For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.”
“Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.”
“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.”
Ecclesiastes 9:5,6,10 (KJV)
Other Scripture you might want to see: Psalm 6:5, Psalms 146:4, Ecclesiastes 3:20, Ezekiel 18:32 (all KJV)
To our father, though he has been gone these 16 years, the next moment to him when that trumpet blows, he will rise! Oh how comforting is true hope!!!
“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren,
concerning them which are asleep,
that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again,
even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord,
that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord
shall not prevent [precede] them which are asleep.
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout,
with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God:
and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together
with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air:
and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”
I Thessalonians 4:13-18 (KJV)
Happy birthday Dad, until we meet again!
Comfort Yourself with these Words!
Now if you want to dispute any of this. Go for it, but I did not write the Bible or perceive God. He allowed me to perceive Him and I am just…