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  • Death and how to comfort the family

    A good friend's wife passed away last year. The phrase I heard most during the funeral as the attendees, including her surviving spouse, was some form of "She's in a better place now." She was a believer, so I don't think the phrase was forced, but I've been wondering how valid that phrase is.

    Here's my primary scripture reference: [1Th 4:18 KJV] Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

    Of course we need some context, so here it is:
    Paul was answering some question from the Thessalonians who were concerned about the state of those who had already fallen asleep (died)--they were concerned that their loved ones had missed the promised kingdom, it seems.

    [1Th 4:13 KJV] But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
    [1Th 4:14 KJV] For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
    [1Th 4:15 KJV] For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive [and] remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.


    The fore-going is certainly a comfort, that those which are asleep will also partake in the Lord's coming, God bringing them with Jesus. This sounds like those "which are asleep" could be with Jesus already. But the remaining verses seem to say something else:

    [1Th 4:16 KJV] 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:
    [1Th 4:17 KJV] Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.


    The apparent order of events is
    1. Jesus descends from heaven with a shout and a trumpet
    2. The dead in Christ rise
    3. The alive are caught up together with them in the clouds ("them" meaning those that were dead)
    4. We meet the Lord Jesus in the air
    5. We are never separated from Jesus forever

    [1Th 4:18 KJV] Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
    Paul tells us to use these words to comfort each other regarding those that have died.

    How many of the people at the funeral were comforting the family with these words? I think I was the only one. The pastor talked about a dream he had where he was dead, but was able to see and be among his family, though they couldn't see him. Several talked about the deceased dancing with Jesus.

    So my question is, should we be comforting those that have lost loved ones by saying "they are in heaven now" or "they are in a better place" or "their spirits are with Jesus". Paul never said to comfort anyone with those words, though they seem like they would be very comforting, if true.

    And if we should not use those words for comfort, is that because those words are not true??

  • #2
    My wife passed away in January 2019. I have been in sorrow for her ever since. The scripture that came to me is in the Psalm of Moses. "The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away" (Ps. 90:10).

    I also read years ago a reading called the:

    "Storm of Sorrow"

    "Into every life some day the tempest of sorrow must come, for sorrow is ever the penalty of love. And if a person loves they will sorrow."

    So I asked myself if love worth the sorrow. My heart told me yes.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Bradley D View Post
      My wife passed away in January 2019. I have been in sorrow for her ever since. The scripture that came to me is in the Psalm of Moses. "The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away" (Ps. 90:10).

      I also read years ago a reading called the:

      "Storm of Sorrow"

      "Into every life some day the tempest of sorrow must come, for sorrow is ever the penalty of love. And if a person loves they will sorrow."

      So I asked myself if love worth the sorrow. My heart told me yes.
      I'm sorry to hear of the loss of your wife. I don't have that experience, so I can't know how bad the sorrow is. Thanks for expressing some of it here.

      What do you think of the two methods of comfort? Would you feel comforted by Paul's words to the Thessalonians? Would it be a bad thing if the normal words of comfort aren't true? What did you hear from those that tried to comfort you?

      It might be that nothing helps so soon after the loss, except to know that others knew your wife and loved her.

      And please, if these questions are hurtful, you don't have to answer.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Derf View Post

        I'm sorry to hear of the loss of your wife. I don't have that experience, so I can't know how bad the sorrow is. Thanks for expressing some of it here.

        What do you think of the two methods of comfort? Would you feel comforted by Paul's words to the Thessalonians? Would it be a bad thing if the normal words of comfort aren't true? What did you hear from those that tried to comfort you?

        It might be that nothing helps so soon after the loss, except to know that others knew your wife and loved her.

        And please, if these questions are hurtful, you don't have to answer.
        The Word of the Lord was my comfort while sitting by my wife's coffin. Knowing that someday I will be taken by the Lord into heaven is comforting. My family and others were there for me. Sometimes just having family and friends is comfort. Not many words are needed. Except for people who have lost loved ones it is hard to know what you are going through. However, God knows. The Lord is my comfort.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Derf View Post
          A good friend's wife passed away last year. The phrase I heard most during the funeral as the attendees, including her surviving spouse, was some form of "She's in a better place now." She was a believer, so I don't think the phrase was forced, but I've been wondering how valid that phrase is.

          Here's my primary scripture reference: [1Th 4:18 KJV] Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

          Of course we need some context, so here it is:
          Paul was answering some question from the Thessalonians who were concerned about the state of those who had already fallen asleep (died)--they were concerned that their loved ones had missed the promised kingdom, it seems.

          [1Th 4:13 KJV] But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
          [1Th 4:14 KJV] For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
          [1Th 4:15 KJV] For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive [and] remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.


          The fore-going is certainly a comfort, that those which are asleep will also partake in the Lord's coming, God bringing them with Jesus. This sounds like those "which are asleep" could be with Jesus already. But the remaining verses seem to say something else:

          [1Th 4:16 KJV] 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:
          [1Th 4:17 KJV] Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.


          The apparent order of events is
          1. Jesus descends from heaven with a shout and a trumpet
          2. The dead in Christ rise
          3. The alive are caught up together with them in the clouds ("them" meaning those that were dead)
          4. We meet the Lord Jesus in the air
          5. We are never separated from Jesus forever

          [1Th 4:18 KJV] Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
          Paul tells us to use these words to comfort each other regarding those that have died.

          How many of the people at the funeral were comforting the family with these words? I think I was the only one. The pastor talked about a dream he had where he was dead, but was able to see and be among his family, though they couldn't see him. Several talked about the deceased dancing with Jesus.

          So my question is, should we be comforting those that have lost loved ones by saying "they are in heaven now" or "they are in a better place" or "their spirits are with Jesus". Paul never said to comfort anyone with those words, though they seem like they would be very comforting, if true.

          And if we should not use those words for comfort, is that because those words are not true??
          You nailed it.

          There is certainly more that could be said, but you have covered all the basics.
          "And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship and in breaking of bread and in prayers." Acts 2:42

          "Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind" Philippians 2:2

          Pro scripture = Protestant

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Derf View Post

            How many of the people at the funeral were comforting the family with these words? I think I was the only one. The pastor talked about a dream he had where he was dead, but was able to see and be among his family, though they couldn't see him. Several talked about the deceased dancing with Jesus.

            So my question is, should we be comforting those that have lost loved ones by saying "they are in heaven now" or "they are in a better place" or "their spirits are with Jesus". Paul never said to comfort anyone with those words, though they seem like they would be very comforting, if true.

            And if we should not use those words for comfort, is that because those words are not true??
            heaven is not deferred till the second coming we are "absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord"

            2Co 5:1 For we 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 heavens.
            2Co 5:2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:
            ...
            2Co 5:6 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:
            2Co 5:7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight
            2Co 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by way 2 go View Post
              heaven is not deferred till the second coming we are "absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord"

              2Co 5:1 For we 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 heavens.
              2Co 5:2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:
              ...
              2Co 5:6 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:
              2Co 5:7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight
              2Co 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
              These are interesting verses, because vs 2 talks about groaning because we aren't clothed with our house "from" (not "in", but I know Greek prepositions are somewhat subjective) heaven. And vs 1 talks about a replacing of the one house with the other. The "house" appears to be our earthly body. So if we "groan" to have a house from heaven, we in no wise would be comforted by not having a house at all, yet we don't see indication of a replacement house until the resurrection occurs.

              Vs 4, which you conveniently left out, explains specifically that we groan NOT to be unclothed, and that we would LIVE (again, this sounds like resurrection):
              [2Co 5:4 KJV] For we that are in [this] tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.

              The difficulty is how to reconcile with the absent from the body/present with the Lord part, but it doesn't specify when that will happen, and not that "absent from the body" is equivalent with "present with the Lord". It MIGHT be, but it isn't required. Vs 10 seems to be explicit in the timeframe for this finally being with the Lord--starting with the resurrection, followed by judgment:
              [2Co 5:10 KJV] For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things [done] in [his] body, according to that he hath done, whether [it be] good or bad.
              The judgments in Revelation seem to be executed on resurrected people.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Derf View Post

                The difficulty is how to reconcile with the absent from the body/present with the Lord part, but it doesn't specify when that will happen,.
                it happens when you are absent from the body , your physical body is dead .

                consistent with scripture , Lazarus and the rich man , criminal on the cross ,
                their spirits left their bodies at death and they continued to exist .

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by way 2 go View Post
                  it happens when you are absent from the body , your physical body is dead .

                  consistent with scripture , Lazarus and the rich man , criminal on the cross ,
                  their spirits left their bodies at death and they continued to exist .
                  I meant the part where we are present with the Lord. If we are immediately present with the Lord, then why did Paul write that they should look to a future event for solace? Their solace should have been in the past event of already joining Christ.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Derf View Post

                    I meant the part where we are present with the Lord. If we are immediately present with the Lord, then why did Paul write that they should look to a future event for solace? Their solace should have been in the past event of already joining Christ.
                    Paul is addressing resurrection and a reuniting in 1Th 4:14 -18

                    and

                    2Co 5:6-8 says what happens to our spirit upon death

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by way 2 go View Post

                      Paul is addressing resurrection and a reuniting in 1Th 4:14 -18

                      and

                      2Co 5:6-8 says what happens to our spirit upon death
                      He's addressing comforting those that have lost loved ones in 1Th 4.

                      In 2Co 5, he's discussing the difference between the two houses: [2Co 5:1 KJV] For we 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 heavens.

                      So, if you were to use 2Co 5 to comfort the bereaved, it seems like you could do it two ways.
                      1. "Be comforted knowing that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord."
                      2. "Be comforted because your loved one has a new body in heaven."

                      And I don't think those two things are talking about different states. If not, then it seems like the "present with the Lord" is in reality "being housed with a building of God, not made with hands, eternal".


                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Derf View Post
                        A good friend's wife passed away last year. The phrase I heard most during the funeral as the attendees, including her surviving spouse, was some form of "She's in a better place now." She was a believer, so I don't think the phrase was forced, but I've been wondering how valid that phrase is.

                        Here's my primary scripture reference: [1Th 4:18 KJV] Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

                        Of course we need some context, so here it is:
                        Paul was answering some question from the Thessalonians who were concerned about the state of those who had already fallen asleep (died)--they were concerned that their loved ones had missed the promised kingdom, it seems.

                        [1Th 4:13 KJV] But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
                        [1Th 4:14 KJV] For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
                        [1Th 4:15 KJV] For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive [and] remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.


                        The fore-going is certainly a comfort, that those which are asleep will also partake in the Lord's coming, God bringing them with Jesus. This sounds like those "which are asleep" could be with Jesus already. But the remaining verses seem to say something else:

                        [1Th 4:16 KJV] 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:
                        [1Th 4:17 KJV] Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.


                        The apparent order of events is
                        1. Jesus descends from heaven with a shout and a trumpet
                        2. The dead in Christ rise
                        3. The alive are caught up together with them in the clouds ("them" meaning those that were dead)
                        4. We meet the Lord Jesus in the air
                        5. We are never separated from Jesus forever

                        [1Th 4:18 KJV] Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
                        Paul tells us to use these words to comfort each other regarding those that have died.

                        How many of the people at the funeral were comforting the family with these words? I think I was the only one. The pastor talked about a dream he had where he was dead, but was able to see and be among his family, though they couldn't see him. Several talked about the deceased dancing with Jesus.

                        So my question is, should we be comforting those that have lost loved ones by saying "they are in heaven now" or "they are in a better place" or "their spirits are with Jesus". Paul never said to comfort anyone with those words, though they seem like they would be very comforting, if true.

                        And if we should not use those words for comfort, is that because those words are not true??
                        Romans 12:15 Lord, may these words glorify you and be pleasing in your sight:
                        Very often, families going through funerals, memorials are having very raw emotion at the loss of loved ones and 'he/she is in a better place' may comfort sometimes, but often it is said without empathy.

                        The comfort from your above scripture is given regarding the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. While ultimately I will rejoice at my parents' passing, and will absolutely realize they are in the presence of the Lord, the immediate need is for comfort: Acts 20:37,38 These cried, appropriately because they were not going to see Paul again. Of course they knew he was in God's hands, and even in his death, that he'd be with Jesus. They were not crying for Paul, they were crying at the prospect of losing a father in the Faith, and friend.

                        One of my favorite verses in all the bible is John 11:35 "Jesus wept." I wondered at that. He had told His disciples that He was going to see Lazarus in a sickness that would absolutely not end in death John 11:4,14,15,23 and told Martha He was the resurrection and the life. In moments, He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead but He wept upon seeing the sorrow of those who loved him. John 11:33,34

                        1 Thessalonians 4:13 says , not that we don't grieve, but that we don't grieve as others: Without hope. It is rather hope that gives us comfort. Rather, it is when some try and comfort without grief themselves, that they show as callous and are not following scripture directive to "grieve with those who grieve."

                        Rather, it is often best not to 'remind' but to be shoulder and comfort during a time of real and genuine great loss, thus mourning 'with' those who mourn.
                        My New Years Resolution: 1 Peter 3:15
                        Omniscient without man's qualification. John 1:3 "Nothing"
                        Colossians 1:17 "Nothing" John 15:5 "Nothing"
                        Mighty, ALL mighty (omnipotent). Revelation 1:8
                        No possible limitation Isaiah 40:25 Joshua 24:15
                        Infinite (Omnipresent) Psalm 145:3 Hebrews 4:13

                        ? Yep

                        Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think... Amen. -Ephesians 3:20 & 21

                        ... when I became an adult, I set aside childish ways. Titus 3:10 Ephesians 4:29-32; 5:11

                        Separation of church and State is not atheism "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights..."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Lon View Post
                          Romans 12:15 Lord, may these words glorify you and be pleasing in your sight:
                          Very often, families going through funerals, memorials are having very raw emotion at the loss of loved ones and 'he/she is in a better place' may comfort sometimes, but often it is said without empathy.

                          The comfort from your above scripture is given regarding the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. While ultimately I will rejoice at my parents' passing, and will absolutely realize they are in the presence of the Lord, the immediate need is for comfort: Acts 20:37,38 These cried, appropriately because they were not going to see Paul again. Of course they knew he was in God's hands, and even in his death, that he'd be with Jesus. They were not crying for Paul, they were crying at the prospect of losing a father in the Faith, and friend.

                          One of my favorite verses in all the bible is John 11:35 "Jesus wept." I wondered at that. He had told His disciples that He was going to see Lazarus in a sickness that would absolutely not end in death John 11:4,14,15,23 and told Martha He was the resurrection and the life. In moments, He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead but He wept upon seeing the sorrow of those who loved him. John 11:33,34

                          1 Thessalonians 4:13 says , not that we don't grieve, but that we don't grieve as others: Without hope. It is rather hope that gives us comfort. Rather, it is when some try and comfort without grief themselves, that they show as callous and are not following scripture directive to "grieve with those who grieve."

                          Rather, it is often best not to 'remind' but to be shoulder and comfort during a time of real and genuine great loss, thus mourning 'with' those who mourn.
                          I agree with you that the purpose of attending funerals is to grieve with those that lost loved ones. That's why I didn't chastise anyone there about their means of comfort, nor do I feel sufficiently informed, at this point, to chastise even were it the right place or time. But the purpose of TOL, in my mind, is to hash out differences in theology, and means of comfort seem a reasonable target here.

                          I've noticed, Lon, that you make the statement without much comment that you hold to the common Christian thought expressed at the funeral I went to--that we are present with Jesus upon death. I think your take on 1 Thess 4 is missing my point. I'm completely fine with the idea that we are to grieve without hopelessness, but the hope that we retain, in the midst of grieving, is one that can be comforted in a particular way, according to Paul. That particular way is NOT what we usually do for grieving friends today.

                          I guess my question is this: If Paul's intention was to provide the best words of comfort, wouldn't it have been more comforting to say, "Your loved ones are with Jesus now", instead of saying "At the resurrection your loved ones will be with Jesus", as "hope" would have it?

                          Remember that Paul was instructing the Thessalonians about those who had already died, and how those remaining can be hopeful.
                          [1Th 4:13 KJV] But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
                          Hopeful of what? Do we hope for something we already have? If the Thessalonians were concerned about their dead loved ones, in a way that was similar to those that have no hope, and the hope was to be with Jesus ([1Th 4:17b KJV] ... so shall we ever be with the Lord.), The best answer Paul could have given was to assure them that their loved ones were already with Jesus, if indeed that was the case. Paul's response seems to indicate that such was not the case for the dead Thessalonians--that they weren't already with Jesus--and thus they needed different words of comfort--that their loved ones would be with Jesus at approximately the same time the living Thessalonians would be with Jesus.

                          [Rom 8:24 KJV] For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
                          [Rom 8:25 KJV] But if we hope for that we see not, [then] do we with patience wait for [it].


                          We don't hope for something we already have (that our dead loved ones are with Jesus), but we have hope that they will be with Jesus when Jesus returns.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Bradley D View Post

                            The Word of the Lord was my comfort while sitting by my wife's coffin. Knowing that someday I will be taken by the Lord into heaven is comforting. My family and others were there for me. Sometimes just having family and friends is comfort. Not many words are needed. Except for people who have lost loved ones it is hard to know what you are going through. However, God knows. The Lord is my comfort.
                            I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings but nowhere in the Bible does it say anyone goes to heaven.
                            Jesus explicitly declared otherwise.
                            All the dead are in their graves until either Jesus's return or else Judgment Day.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by WYRose View Post

                              I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings but nowhere in the Bible does it say anyone goes to heaven.
                              Jesus explicitly declared otherwise.
                              All the dead are in their graves until either Jesus's return or else Judgment Day.
                              Thanks for the comments, WYRose. Can you give the scripture references where Jesus made those declarations? This is the thing I was hoping to discuss in this thread.

                              Comment

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