Helping One Another Grieve with Hope

Until Christ returns, we will face death all around us. The Bible describes death as an enemy (1 Corinthians 15:26). It invades our ranks and steals from us those we love. It is right and good to grieve the death of our loved ones. And it is right to grieve with those who grieve (1 Corinthian 12:26). But we do not grieve as those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

When my father died on September 6, 2019, I happened to be in Medellin, Colombia preaching at a conference. The next day I was assigned to preach Daniel 12. As I worked through the text, I couldn’t help but think about how it applied to dad, and I was oddly encouraged. So, that is the text I preached at his funeral. Allow me to share the hope and encouragement I found from Daniel 12. May it encourage you and help you encourage others to grieve with hope.

Daniel 12:1-4 | A Picture of the End
Throughout Daniel 7-12, the Lord allowed Daniel to see visions of history unfolding from his day to the end of time, the Last Day. In Daniel 12:1-4, Daniel is reminded that after a time of great trouble, his people will be delivered. The deliverance will come on the Last Day when all humanity will be raised from the dead. The righteous, who’s names are written in the book, will be raised to everlasting life (v.2) and glory (v.3) but the unrighteous to “shame and everlasting contempt” (v.3). Daniel, however, is to “shut the words and seal the book” because this prophecy is for “the time of the end,” not for his time.

Daniel 12:5-12 | Two Questions – When? And What?
Naturally, questions arise when thinking of the end. An angel asks when these things will be, and he is given an answer about the length of the time of trouble, but he receives no answer as to when the end will come.

Confused, Daniel asked what will be the outcome of these things. That is the more pertinent question. Asked in a more personal way we can say, “What will happen to ME on that day?”

Daniel 12:13 | An Answer
Here is where I found comfort – in God’s words to Daniel (v.13). Daniel had already been told these events will not unfold in his lifetime. So, how should he respond to these promises of future deliverance on the day of resurrection?

  • Live the life God has given you – Daniel is told to “go on your way till the end.” That is, he is to live HIS life, the life God has given to him. As I looked back on my dad’s life, that is what he did. He was the most moral man I knew. And yet, the Lord showed him that even moral men go to hell. So, about six months after I came to faith in Christ, my dad gave his life to the Lord. And since that day, he lived his life to the glory of God.

We must encourage one another to live OUR lives, the life God has given each of us for his own glory. To live as Christians is to live for Christ. Therefore, everything we do as we await that Last Day is for the glory of Christ our king and the advancement of the mission he has given us. We are to work unto the Lord, and we are to warn all peoples everywhere about the Last Day because those who do not profess Christ will face judgment. Let’s help one another live the lives God has given us to his own glory.

  • You will die – Because Daniel will not see these future events unfold, he is told, “you shall rest.” That is to say, Daniel, “you will die.” Until that day, all of us will die. We will go to the grave. Dad knew that, and he died well. God prepared us for dad’s death through the long process of sickness and dying. We were able to come to terms with what was happening, process it together as a family, and come to the place where we wanted his suffering to end. Of course, not everyone experiences this grace. Too many of us are confronted with the sudden death of those we love. And when we’re not prepared for death, the pain can be overwhelming.

As we face death, whether sudden or after a long process, we grieve. Grief is normal; it is natural. It is right to grieve when an enemy invades our ranks and steals from us those we love. But don’t miss the point – while to live as Christians is to live for Christ, to die as Christians is gain. That’s why it is called rest. In my dad’s death I was reminded how important it is for us as pastors to prepare our people for death, for their own death. Unless Jesus returns in our lifetime, we will all die. But, death is not the last word.

  • You will stand in your allotted place – While Daniel will die (rest), on that Last Day when the dead are raised, he will stand in the place the Lord has allotted to him. That will be the outcome of these things for Daniel. And that will be the outcome of these things for all who have trusted in Christ. This is our living hope. And with this hope, we can face death. And with this hope we can grieve. Encourage one another with these words.

Love,

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