For Those Who Mourn
Loved Ones who have Departed
and sisters, we
do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so
that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope…."
I Thessalonians 4:13 NIV
lifetime in church and ministry I’ve learned a lot by youthful
observation, and more by hard-earned experience. When I began serving
ministry well over four decades ago, I sought to expand my learning. I
seriously the command to“…study
thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed,
rightly diving the word of truth….”
God knows I tried so hard to do my best for Him. Following the Apostle
Paul's model, I determined to spend and to be spent to fulfill my
so I did both. I considered it an honor and a priviledge to have been
called by God, and I loved serving Him in ministry. But of all the
ministry functions, and all my ministry experiences the hardest facet
me was serving in funerals. When I began to empathize with those who
grieved, bearing one another’s burden easily turned into
personalized grief. I can’t seem to handle seeing others suffer. For as
long as I can remember, my soul has been hard-wired to want to deliver
nearly everyone from their suffering. Back in those early days, I would
easily feel overwhelmed when I realized my utter inability to fix the
grieving loved ones’ pain and loss. So it’s a statistical irony
that for every wedding I have officiated, I have ministered in four
to provide relief, I studied harder, dug deeper, focusing on
related doctrines. I mined deep into the scriptures searching for some
nugget to help comfort those who mourn.
there were many wonderful scriptural themes: “…I
am the resurrection and the life….”; “…If a man dies shall he
do not grieve as those who have no hope….”;
death where is thy sting, O
grave where is thy victory….”;
are they that mourn, for
they shall be comforted….”; “…God
shall wipe away every tear….”;
My Father’s house there are
and so many other comforting passages.
something contemporary that would offer more relief; absolute
comfort. At last I realized what I knew all along; that such a level of
relief can only be
found through an intimate relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.
constant reminder of the sinful condition of mankind. Death is also a
declaration that God's comandments cannot be ignored without
consequence. Regardless of
how pure and consecrated a life the deceased may have lived, their
departure is a direct result of Adam's disregard for God's
direct order of prohibition. It was as if the world was like a
state of the art medical facility, and Eden its sterile operating
theater. And one day one man's reckless behavior let in a deadly
infected the theater, spread throughout the entire facility,
thus infected every person who has passed through that facility called
earth, since that day. As it
one man sin entered into the
world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men…much more
the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus
Christ, hath abounded unto many….”
disposed to loving kindness and tender mercies; His grace and mercy
does not come at the expense of His righteousness and justice. Since
mankind has made an occupation of ignoring God. But for those who long
for deliverance from man's evil condition, as it is written, our Lord
Jesus Christ has made "...a new and
for us to "...come boldly
unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to
help in time of need...."
Jesus declared of Himself, "...I am the Way,
the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me...."
Contrary to popular belief, there is no other way but by the Lord Jesus
not grieve as those who have no hope
was preparing to conduct a memorial service for a family I knew well.
To properly deliver a eulogy, I always want to learn details about
the deceased’s personal life, habits, mannerisms, things they loved
to do, stories, etc. But that always gets to me. With few exceptions,
funeral I’ve experienced has memorialized a life that had
been cut too
short, and too young. That's always hard for me to bear.
was a feeling of utter helplessness. I wanted to grab every one of
the mourners in my arms and hug them; and make their pain go away.
But I didn’t have the power to do that. So I prayed for God to give
me something that would strengthen those who grieve, and give them
hope in the midst of such hopelessness. I wanted something I could
use at every funeral in the future. I was seeking some universal
truth. What He gave me was the following simple prayer.
"Lord, this is not the
outcome we all prayed for,
and at last here we mourn.
But as it is written,
we do not grieve as those who have no hope.
Yet today we are forced to
move beyond asking ‘why’ and deal with ‘what is’.
Lord, I pray
that one day You will bring us to such a place,
where You can show us why everything happened the way it did"
later when I lost my father, I had to walk out that prayer
I had prayed for so many others. It couldn’t have relieved the great
loss. But it did make me hope for a day when I could come to that same
place. Maybe the Lord could help me understand; and maybe resolve
those unanswered questions like “why”.
passed, and then the Lord brought me to that place. It didn’t stop the
ache of the loss, or the regrets of things I failed to say, or the
things I wish I’d never said. But understanding the reasons why
God’s answers were “no”
when I prayed for Daddy’s healing and
deliverance; that revelation unleashed the healing process for me. Now,
again. I wish the same for all who mourn any kind of loss, tangible or
time I gave those words in faith, hope, and love were to a dear old
friend and brother in Christ. He had lost his son unexpectedly. That
boy was like a nephew to me. I probably wept as much over his death
as I did when my father was taken from me. My dad died nine years ago
at an old age. Yet seldom has a day passed that I don’t think of
him and miss him. His passing deeply affected me, and still does. But
this gifted young man
was in the prime of his life, and his loss tore me up emotionally.
When I sent the foregoing prayer to his father, I thought to myself,
“Lord, I don’t
ever want to have to send that prayer to anyone again”.
I hate death! One day, my Lord Jesus Christ will destroy death! Oh
what a day that will be!
spiritual father in the faith, Brother
William Branham, used to remind us how the devil can’t chase any
believer farther than the grave. He can very often make this life
hard for us. Sometimes our unbelief, or our disobedience
may permit the power of darkness to wreak havoc. It may even permit
him to strike our homes with disease or tragedy. But when we reach
the grave, God makes him stop there! At last, he can never touch us
again. And one day, the devil will reap his reward. I remind
the devil of this frequently. I remind him that on
“THAT DAY”, when Jesus casts
the devil, his angels, and all
wicked souls into the Lake of Fire; we (my wife and I) will
ones standing over there right next to our Lord Jesus Christ,
observing the execution of the devil's judgment, and we will rejoice
He wanted to go back
funeral where I served as minister was shortly before we were
poisoned, over twenty years ago. Like all the previous funerals, this
one was unique. The
deceased was a man we called “Pops”. Pops and his family had been
my friends for years. He had lived out a full life, and had fought
courageously in a protracted war for his health, and life.
day he passed away he slipped into what the doctors diagnosed as
after a while he spontaneously came out of it. As Pops opened his
eyes, he looked around the room with a very puzzled countenance. Then
like a judge polling his jurors, Pops asked all his family members
are you doing here”.
began to describe the place where he had just been. He told them it
was the most beautiful peaceful place he’d ever seen. He told of
departed loved ones. They said he became almost irritated, insisting
he wanted to go back immediately. And so he did. Moments later he
closed his eyes, the doctors called it, and then pulled a white sheet
over the body. In Biblical terminology, Pops had put off his earthly
tabernacle. Pops had finally made it home
Branham told how he visited Brother Fred Bosworth when he lay dying.
For those who may not know him, F.F. Bosworth was a pioneer in the
healing ministry. The Bosworth Brothers began holding tent meetings
in the early 20th century. He was like a father to Brother
Branham, just as Paul was a spiritual father to Timothy. As stated,
Branham is my spiritual father in the faith.
Branham said that a
few hours before Brother Bosworth passed away; he rose up and stood
by his bed. For three hours he stood there shaking hands and speaking
with scores of departed souls that only his eyes could see. They were
those who had been saved, healed, and
delivered in his meetings. When he had greeted the last one, he lay
back down on his bed, closed his eyes, and gently passed from this
world into the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ. Brother
Branham taught us that God often sends just such an heavenly escort to
gloriously bring His souls home.
Kenneth Hagin said he was told by the daughter of John G. Lake of a
experience. Brother Lake was another powerful healing evangelist who
arose out of the Azusa Revival.
how on the morning of his departure, Dr. Lake arose and said “I’m
going home to be with Jesus today”. He
repeated it throughout that morning. A few hours later, as he sat
down in his chair he said, “well
Jesus, I’m going now”.
He then leaned his
head back, closed his eyes, and departed from this world.
manifestations do not just occur among those who thunder the message
of faith across the globe. It happens to anyone who dares to believe.
Pops was not some spiritual giant engaged in a healing ministry. Just
a few days ago, one of our dear friends lost her mother, who was in her
sweet little lady had lived out a full and rich Christian life by all
Biblical standards. And at the end, they said she began greeting loved
ones who had preceded her.
interject this hoping the Holy Spirit can use it to prompt someone to
save, or extend the life of a loved one; the way He did for me in the
following example. Many years ago, my father
suffered a stroke. In the chaos that ensued, his home caught fire and
was destroyed. When I came to see him at the hospital, I began to
question him to assess his mental state. He told me his sister (called
her by name)
had come to see him earlier that day. That sister had passed away more
than a decade earlier. I knew a spirit of death had come intending to
take him. He was a Pentecostal, and understood
the deliverance ministry. Later on, in one of his brief lucid moments,
I got him into a wheel chair, and shuttled him into an unoccupied
conference room. I told him we were there, just the two of us, to pray
for his deliverance. He nodded his head and mumbled, "OK". Standing
behind him, I laid my hands on his shoulders and asked the Lord to have
mercy on him, touch him, and heal him. Then I addressed the power of
darkness generally, and then specifically the spirit of death. Within a
few days he was bouncing back. He went on to regain much of his
independence, was able to drive again, and went on to live with family
members for four more years before the Lord took him. I thank God I
obeyed the Holy Spirit that afternoon, and that He granted Daddy four
more years on earth.
doctors can diagnose these things as merely the
patient talking out of their heads, but I believe it is real. I believe
is God sending an heavenly escort to bring them home to prepare for a
wedding feast; and to receive that "...crown of
righteousness...for all those who have loved His appearing...."
man dies will he live again?
that question in the midst of untold calamity. But Job also said
“…for I know
that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day
upon the earth…and though after my skin worms destroy this body,
yet in my flesh shall I see God….”
Look at what Job actually said: God shall stand on "this earth" at the
latter day, and even after Job’s body is decayed and consumed by worms,
still "IN HIS FLESH
BODY HE WILL SEE GOD!"
That’s the resurrection!
Job’s testimony was so powerful that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph,
and countless others acted on that resurrection faith; solely on the
basis of Job’s testimony. Throughout scriptural history, most of them
had no Bible, and most had
no prophets to scream out those prophetic promises. Most biblical
figures who believed in the resurrection only had the
testimonial evidence of Job’s life; what I call “'Exhibit A'
of The Resurrection”.
Job’s testimony still preaches to us some four millennia later.
chapter 11 is known to Christians as the “Hall of Faith” chapter
of the Bible. Four times the writer makes direct reference to ancient
witnesses who acted upon their faith in the resurrection. These
witnesses staked their lives on it. More than any other specific
subject in Hebrews 11, the writer infers “The
testimonies will preach to us until “The
many believers eagerly await “The
as the next prophetic event on God's calendar. Others are anticipating "The Great
as the next event. But some of us who believe in “The
know that a “Great
must precede them
all. We will fully develop this thesis in the
evidence is so overwhelming that I too devote my life
by faith to awaiting The
Resurrection that Jesus promised us. Jesus promised
believes in Him will never die but have eternal life. We will see our
loved ones again! All who have believed will never be separated again!
We will never
again experience the pain of such loss! Our existence is more than
just these physical bodies. Our bodies are merely vehicles. And like
an old car, our bodies may wear out in this world. But one day we will
them in for new models that will never wear out. As it is written,
will put on immortality….”,
know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we
have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the
So when the time comes for us, or for those we love to “…put
off this earthly tabernacle….” those of us who believe and trust in the
Lord Jesus Christ
will still be alive and never die. The Apostle wrote, “…we
are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body,
and to be present with the Lord….”
When we get over there, in that beautiful place, we’ll be restored
to our prime; for as it is written, “…thy
youth is renewed like The Eagle’s....” and “…we
will forever be with Him….”
when a man or woman dies, will they live again? You'd better believe
they will! If they are a believer
in Jesus Christ they never really die; they just move out of one house
and into another. Over the decades, I have said countless times in
sermons and in conversations, that I am certain if we could ask any
departed believer if they'd want to come back here, they'd answer a
resounding "NO!" So for those of us who are left here on
earth, we do not grieve
as those who have no hope.
"...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 shall be
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
best way we can honor our departed loved ones is by proclaiming our
faith in, bearing witness to, and diligently awaiting with
anticipation, for that “Great
Resurrection”. Jesus said,
“…I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in Me,
though he were dead, yet shall he live….”
© - GERRY PHILLIPS -
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED