Friday, December 18, 2015


Every one of us has had to face the death of a person we love.  Each time it is as if death has come too soon. In Kenya, death is a common occurrence for every family with almost every family losing at least one child at birth or in early childhood.  I have stood over the coffin of a child many times and it never gets easier.  We just received the message that one of our teachers at New Life Academy lost her four day old son this weekend.

When I think of Emily and her family, I am reminded of 2 Corinthians 1:3,4 which says "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God."

I love these verses because it shows clearly that God uses people to bring comfort to others.  We can become the arms and heart of God toward those who have lost a loved one.  I can't even image the intolerable pain that Emily is facing today but I can understand the loss of someone anticipated, given and lost.  Through my own pain I can in some small way bring comfort to others.

But in order to be used of God to minister to others, I have had to work through my own pain.  C.S. Lewis once said that after his wife died he criticized God severely for a time. He accused God of every injustice until he had nothing else to say. It was then and only then that he felt the loving arms of God bringing comfort in his pain.  When death comes too soon, we go through a lot of emotions. I know I have experienced hurt, frustration, abandonment, fear and even anger. 

In these times I usually turn to the old hymn, In The Garden, especially the lines: "He walks with me, and He talks with me, And He tells me I am His own; And the joy we share as we tarry there, None other has ever known." Isn't it a great comfort to know that God listens to us, that He feels with us and that He understands our pain? But the truth is that we have to allow God into our pain.

Through all the African funerals I have learned two things:

(1) God doesn't get upset when I share my true feelings with him.  

I can tell Him when I am disappointed in how He allowed the death to come. I can tell Him that I am anger that He allowed death to come in a certain painful way. I can tell Him that I feel abandoned because He did not answer my prayers for an earthly healing. You see when I get real with God then I am inviting him into my pain, doubt and grief and He has promised to be there with me in the middle of it all.

(2) God's comfort doesn't mean my tears will go away or that my grief will stop immediately.

God's promise to wipe away all tears from our eyes hasn't taken place yet.  I have to cry in my grief. It is the natural process of healing and God is there with me because He understands. Remember Jesus wept over the death of Lazarus. God knows what it means to physically lose someone close. We must walk through the pain with God...the goodbyes and the living part that comes afterwards.  We must remember that God is there to guide us along the road our hand in His.

Selwyn Hughes wrote "He [Jesus] gives most when most is taken away."  The presence of God can and should be felt with a great force when we are going through a time of bereavement. We should feel the consoling power of Jesus like never before because God understands.  God loved mankind and many are in pain. God is just waiting to be invited to step in and give comfort. Many times this comfort comes in the form of other people standing with us while they grieve.

We can have hope in God even in death. I love 1 Thessalonians 4 verses 13 forward. This scriptures just stirs up emotion inside my very soul because of the great hope found in its words:

"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 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."

Death that comes too soon is not the end.  Death is not the end because of JESUS who defeated the power of death.  Jesus came to bind the brokenhearted, to comfort those who grieve, to bring beauty out of ashes, to give joy in mourning and to turn despair into praise (Isa. 61).

Concluding Thought:
My prayer is that we are bearers of God's comfort as we use our memories of God's goodness in our own pain to bring comfort to someone else. Because we have hope of a great reunion day and I tell you that I have some folks there that I long to see but I can wait a little bit longer because God has some comfort work for me to do here.

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