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How to Deal With the Death of People You Love

Greg Laurie
Greg Laurie, senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California |

Another school shooting.

This time in at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas. Dakota Schrader, a student at Santa Fe High said between sobs, "I shouldn't be going through this. It's my school. This is my daily life. I shouldn't have to feel like that."

No, she shouldn't.

The sudden loss of a loved one is beyond devastating. When a loved one leaves this world for the next, we are torn apart inside, so we cry and we mourn. A deep sense of loss and sorrow is an indication of profound love. The apostle Paul spoke of deep sorrow over the possible loss of a friend:

"Meanwhile, I thought I should send Epaphroditus back to you. He is a true brother, a faithful worker, and a courageous soldier. . . and he was very distressed that you heard he was ill. And he surely was ill; in fact, he almost died. But God had mercy on him—and also on me, so that I would not have such unbearable sorrow." (Philippians 2:25)

Paul is saying, "If Epaphroditus had died, I would not have been able to bear it!"

That's how you feel when someone you love dies—you can't bear it. So, don't be impatient in your mourning and please don't be the type of person that says "Don't Cry" or "You'll get over it." This process of mourning must happen. The Bible says, "There is a time to mourn." If you don't mourn properly, you will not heal properly.

I did not fully understand this principle until it happened to me.

Our son Christopher was taken from us suddenly in an automobile accident at the age of 33. Though it has been 10 years, we still feel the pain and loss of it. Deeply.

I grew up in Southern California, so I've spent a lot of time in the ocean surfing and grief is like wiping out on a wave. When you get caught in a set of oncoming waves and go over the falls, you lose perspective. The thing you must avoid is panic. You have to roll with it and remember that it won't last. But sometimes, when you're in the whitewater, you lose perspective. You literally do not know which way is up, or how to get to the surface.

This is where your leash comes in.

Your leash is attached to your board, which always goes to the surface due to its buoyancy. So, you grab your leash and follow it to the surface. The Bible is like that leash; it gets us "above the surface," where we can get a heavenly perspective.

Sometimes, I get my head "above water" and everything is clear. Everything almost makes sense for a few moments. I think, "The Lord is leading me in His perfect plan. I have a son on earth and another son in heaven. I will see him again." But then the waves of pain and grief and sadness come back and I go under again. I surface and sink again many times in one day—again, again, and again. That is the nature of mourning, but within this, we still have hope.

The believers in Thessalonica were wondering if they would ever see their loved ones again who had died as Christians. Paul wrote these comforting words:

"And now, brothers and sisters, I want you to know what will happen to the Christians who have died so you will not be full of sorrow like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with Him the believers who have died . . . Then we will be with the Lord forever" (1 Thessalonians 4:13–17).

So, yes, we mourn when the lives of those we love are taken from us. We mourn deeply, but we have the hope of seeing our loved ones again someday. They have preceded us to heaven, and it will be a wonderful heavenly reunion.

At a time like this we will retreat to our predictable corners, and we will debate our nation's gun laws, mental health policies and a number of other issues that possibly contributed to this most recent tragedy—but the ultimate issue here is on one of the heart.

Only God can change the human heart and replace rage with love.

That is why I am coming to the great state of Texas on June 10th at AT&T stadium for an event called Harvest America. There, I will tell people how to have their heart changed by God as we join together in prayer for all those affected by the shooting at Santa Fe High School.

There are a lot of questions at a time like this and I know it sounds like a cliché, but Christ really is the answer. I hope you'll consider joining me in Arlington and find out why I believe that.

Greg Laurie serves as the senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California, one of the largest churches in America, and he's the founder of Harvest Crusades, a large-scale evangelistic ministry attended by more than 7.6 million people worldwide, both in stadiums, arenas and at live-streaming locations across the world. Laurie will host Harvest America 2018 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX on June 10, 2018.

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