A year ago yesterday, my stepdad died. Needless to say it has been a difficult year. A few months later, my father-in-law died. Again, this has just been a rough time.
My family and I recently moved back to where I grew up and there is a pond behind the house. We have gone fishing a few of the evenings after supper, and it has caused us all to think about both my stepdad and my father-in-law because they both loved fishing so much.
My stepdad was in my life from almost the beginning. He taught me so much and I could never express how thankful I am that God brought him into our lives. I was able to talk to him about anything and he would help me think through it. If I ever had something come up and thought “How am I going to deal with this?”, he would sit there with me and help me figure out a plan. I didn’t always do what he wanted me to do, but he still loved me and helped me every time. There is so much more that I could say about him, but I will stop there for the purpose of this post.
My father-in-law came into my life much later, but he made an impact in the time we had together. He also taught me a lot. He helped me through some difficult times, too. If my wife and I ever had something happen, he would come from wherever he might have been to help in any way he could. I could say a lot more about him also, but I want to move into the purpose of this post.
When someone dies, we want nothing more than to comfort that person’s family, right? Especially if we are a brother or sister in Christ, we want to remind that person’s family of certain scriptural truths. Think about it. “Just remember that they’re not suffering anymore.” “They’re with Jesus now.” “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” “You’ll see them again one day.” And many more things, right?
Scripture is clear that when a believer dies, while their body for the time remains here, their spirit is present with the Lord. And one day, Jesus will return, the dead in Christ will rise with their spirits reuniting with their now glorified bodies, and we will live forever with Jesus. There are some indications that we will know each other, but it is obvious that our relationship will not be the same even if we do. We are told in Scripture that there will be no more sickness or death. There will be no more sorrow or tears. These things are all true!
However, I used to think that saying those things to those who are experiencing loss was a good thing and a comforting thing. It may be, and I may continue to express those thoughts in one way or another when I talk with a family who has just had a loved one die.
But in dealing with loss honestly, I have to say that in those moments when your loved one’s death is gripping your heart, you may not want to hear it. I didn’t. I know those things are true. I know that my stepdad is not having to deal with all the sickness that he had going on in the last few months of his life and that he is finally rid of that dreaded trach! I know that my father-in-law is no longer having constant pain and sickness because of his cancer. I know they are both with Jesus. I know that I will in some way see them again. But in those moments, those hard, lonely, grief-stricken moments, I’d rather have them here than not have them here. That’s honesty, right? They might be better off, but I’m not and I want them back. Have you ever felt that way?
Before I close, I want you to understand the purpose of this post. I am beyond happy that both my stepdad and my father-in-law were Christians. I know as far as I can know that they are no longer suffering from what ailed them on this earth. I know that they are better off. I know that they are with Jesus. I know all these things and I believe all these things. However, there are times, when, if I’m honest, I’d rather have them back with me!