North Santa Rosa

Living With Purpose

The death of a loved one is perhaps the most shattering of all experiences a person will ever have to face. The emotional and rational thought in our minds is there’s not much we can do about it. But there are some attitudes about grief that can be our allies.
I once was called upon to participate in the funeral of one of my former high school classmates. In preparation for the service, my mind raced back to a conversation I had with him as a teenager. Both of us enjoyed fishing in a local lake which wasn’t uncommon for a couple of country boys like ourselves. After a successful day of fishing I told him about our catch. He asked me what part of the lake we caught our fish. When I described the place, he made the quick remark, “That’s a good spot. But it’s better on the other side.” The purpose and impact of his words ring in my ears in a fresh new way almost 30 years later, its better on the other side.
I’ve come to realize for the Christian, death is really the beginning of life not the end. Tennyson was correct when he said that our physical life is the dull side of death, and that the other side brightness inconceivable awaits us.
Sometimes in our grief we often assume that our loved ones have lost more than they have gained. Certainly they lose the physical participation in this life. But try thinking beyond this life for a moment. In the Bible, this life is described as a vapor. One version of the Bible says, “Life is like a fog. It’s here a little while then it’s gone” (James 4:14). We should make the effort to think higher and discover the words of 1 Corinthians 2:9 where it says, “No eye has ever seen or no ear has ever heard or no mind has ever thought of the wonderful things God has made ready for those who love Him.” Revelations 7:16-17 promises, “They will never be hungry or thirsty again. God will take away all tears from their eyes.” There’s beauty, joy, and eternal life waiting for us on the other side. Certainly in our physical humanity we liken our physical bodies with who we are. But in reality our bodies are only cloaks that house our spirit. At no time should we consider our bodies as the true essence of self. Suppose we meet face-to-face and we shake hands. Do I touch the real you? Do I see the real you? I don’t think so. The essential part of you is your spirit. We dwell inside our bodies for a short while, and then we depart. It’s not easy to disassociate the personality from the person. I can understand this because I still gaze at the picture of my grandfather on my book shelf and think of the happy times we spent together. The body should be treated with respect, but it’s in no way the person we really are or the person we really knew.
When a Christian dies they will go to be with Jesus. Jesus said, “I want my followers to be with me where I am” (John 17:24) —and that means in heaven. Jesus wants a closer relationship with those who have been saved. He desires to welcome all of us home. He knows that only in heaven can we have the deepest, one-on-one, face-to-face communion with him. This is why we experience the tension between what we want and what’s best for our loved one who has passed away. While we would like our loved ones here with us on earth, they are truly better off with Jesus.
It feels as though there’s a knot in our stomach and we know the pain we feel at the death of our loved ones who knew God. There are times when we miss them excruciatingly. Sometimes we hear their voice or we see there empty chair and we choke up. The times we spent with them are forever etched in our minds and if we think about it long enough hot tears come to our eyes. In this sense, death is an enemy to us, a thief, and a heartbreaker. But as the pain fades, our faith can bring a welcomed sense of comfort as we contemplate the joy Jesus has by having another one of his children home. They’re not really dead; only living in a different realm on the other side where we long to be when our work is done. The apostle Paul said, “to be out of the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8). Because of love, we feel the pain and grieve the separation, but rest in the assurance that the one we miss so dearly is experiencing joy and peace like never before. There’s real hope in that.
The supreme truth is that death could not hold Jesus back; he still lives and he’s on the other side ready to receive us and our loved ones. Jesus said, “Because I live, you will live also” (John 14:19). Through faith in God, we too are purposed to live as spiritual beings in a spiritual world on the other side. Make plans to be there one day by trusting in him today.

• This weekly column is written by Matthew Dobson. He’s the author of the following books: “Soldiers of God: A Bible Study guide for Spiritual Warfare” and “The Authentic Teenager: A Bible Study Guide to Truth and Positive Living” and “Spiritual Fitness For Runners” and “Understanding the Higher Power”. Matthew can be reached by email: He welcomes your thoughts concerning faith, belief, and Christian living

Posted by on Sep 27 2015. Filed under Living With Purpose, Local, Top News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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