Monday, November 09, 2009

Good grief

What should a pastor or Christian friend tell grieving parents who lost a child to miscarriage or leukemia? What, in general, should he say to those who fear a loved one may be forever lost?

Sometimes we overlook the obvious. But we need to remind ourselves that God knows all about our feelings. Indeed, directly or indirectly God gave us our feelings. He understands. It’s not as if he’s oblivious to our plight. We wouldn’t have these feelings it the first place if it weren’t for him.

In the case of his people, God has taken our feelings into account. One way or the other, he will take care of our heart. That’s all we know for sure. And that’s all we need to know.

It’s one of those simple truths we need to repeat to ourselves. Sometimes the simplest truths are the easiest to forget or neglect. But we need to repeat them and live them until we grow into them, and they in us.

Thank God for godly affections. For those emotions that God sanctions and sanctifies. Thank God in advance that we can trust him to heal our broken, emotional life–as only he can do.

And what about unbelievers? This promise is not for them. But not all unbelievers remain unbelievers. This is something we can share with them in their bereavement, too. Something available to them in case they avail themselves of the Lord.

1 comment:

  1. "What, in general, should he say to those who fear a loved one may be forever lost"

    Indeed, what should one say?

    If one really believes that to be the case, I think grief is appropriate. It indicates empathy. The problem is that some hope to eventually have empathy replaced in Heaven with "holy apathy". That is, they are no longer rendered distraught by the notion of loved ones' eternal damnation.

    This seems counter-intuitive, like the male Islamic fantasy that one is rewarded with chastity in this life with the opportunity for a complete gratification of lust in the next.

    Some believe that any memory of the damned is blotted out. This too, is problematic. If the whole reason for the existence of the reprobate was to serve to help sanctify the Elect, why go through all of that if the entire process is going to be eradicated from their memory? Why not just skip the whole earthly life thing if none of it was going to be remembered anyway?

    Perhaps some form of tempered grief should last eternally on the part of the saved: they made it into Heaven in some sense at the expense of the lost who were created simply so that the saved would reach their destination.

    This seems an appropriate and holy response from fellow, fleshly sinners saved by grace.