Blindsided by Death

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Josh McDowell shares how to get through a painful loss.

Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 2Corinthians 1:4

SEVENTEEN-YEAR-OLD Paige just lost her father to bone cancer after he suffered for eight months. She misses her dad horribly.

Curt, a high school sophomore, was in his friend Ed’s car when a truck rammed into the driver’s side. Ed died in Curt’s arms.

When Cindy went to check on her six-month -old brother during his naptime, Ty was blue and not breathing. When the EMTs arrived, Ty was pronounced dead.

It’s indescribably painful and difficult to cope with the death of a loved one or close friend. You might have made that discovery firsthand. Whether it is a parent or a grandparent succumbing to terminal cancer, a friend or classmate killed in a car accident or any loss of someone dear to you, it hurts. Even if you haven’t experienced such a loss, you probably have friends who have or will. How do you get through that kind of tragedy?

First, when someone close to you dies, you likely will experience a wide range of emotions. You might feel terribly sad, depressed, hopeless, abandoned, frightened, and even angry because of what happened. And you might get intensely angry at the situation, at the person who died and left you alone, at the person(s) you consider responsible for the death, or even at God for allowing it to happen. All these feelings are normal and natural. Emotions are a built-in release valve to help you handle deep inner pain.

Second, your greatest need in the first hours after the death of a friend or loved one is for others to comfort you. That sounds obvious, but what exactly is comfort? It’s not a “pep talk” urging you to hang in there, tough it out, or hold it together. Comfort isn’t an attempt to explain why bad things happen to people. It’s not a bunch of positive words about God being in control and everything being okay. All those things can be good and useful in time, but they don’t fill our pressing need for comfort.

Real comfort is having people feel your hurt and sorrow with you. You receive comfort when you know you aren’t suffering alone. Paul says, “When others are happy, be happy with them. If they are sad, share their sorrow” (Romans 12:15). You sense God’s care and concern for you as someone hurts with you, feels sad with you, and cries with you. So when you hurt, find somebody who will hurt with you. It’s one of God’s huge helps to getting through your sorrow.

REFLECT: Are you hurting because of the death of someone close to you-recently or in the past? What help do you need from others?

PRAY: Ask God to help you talk to friends and family members about how they can comfort you.

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