I have fragmented memories of attending funerals as a child. I barely remember the service for my mother’s aunt who died in an auto accident. I have a mental picture of two caskets at the front of a crowded church. I remember better the funeral of my great grandmother, probably because we often ate Sunday dinner at her house with my great aunts. I remember laying a cheap ring with a plastic ruby in her casket. I probably got it from a gum ball machine. I remember feeling awkward at the burial.
Funerals and visitations can be uncomfortable for adults as well. People often struggle to find comforting words to offer. Have you ever visited someone in grief and wondered what to say beyond the standard, “I’m sorry for your loss”? How can we encourage those grieving the death of a Christian?
1 Thessalonians 4:18 says, “Therefore encourage each other with these words.” (NIV) The verses before explain what “these words” are. They describe the return of Jesus and resurrection of believers. Since we believe Jesus rose from the dead, we also believe in the resurrection of the dead at his return. This hope transforms our grief.
The next time you comfort someone over the death of a believer, remember our hope of resurrection. Remind them the separation is temporary. We will be together again, and forever, when Jesus returns.
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Bumper music “Landing Place” performed by Mark July, used under license from Shutterstock.