Some young people become bitter against God when they have suffered the death of a friend. Yet others who have endured the same will continue to love and serve God. Have you ever lost a loved one and wondered how God could have allowed them to die? How can we help our children to make sense of this question?
Open the Bible with your kids and use God’s Word to comfort and encourage their troubled hearts.
The difference between those who find hope after a loss of a friend and those who don’t often comes down to whether a person has a sincere and deep trust in God. Trusting that He has a beautiful plan to work all things out for good in the end. As parents, we can and should approach the subject of death with clarity and confidence when discussing it with our children. And then, in the day when it’s needed, they can fall back on the truth to get them through difficult losses.
The apostle Paul gives us a very useful analogy that our kids can understand: “For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1). The human body, as a tent, is the illustration Paul uses to explain the death of one of God’s own. Our earthly bodies are but a temporary dwelling that will one day be folded up and put away to await a permanent and glorious residence to come.
As parents, we must remember that the Bible explains clearly that our earthly life is transitory and is only a small stepping stone to an amazing future.
If your kids have been tent camping before, ask the question: "After several days of sleeping on the hard ground with bugs and dirt, were they glad to fold the tent up and head for a warm shower and soft bed at home?" The answer is probably yes.
For the deceased child of God, while their physical tent is folded up for now, one day they will be unfolded by God Himself to experience a wonderful opportunity to live forever in a perfect body, without pain, surrounded by God’s love.
Paul’s words encourage us to turn our focus onto the permanent habitation from heaven: “For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life” (2 Corinthians 5:2-4).
With this truth, our kids can face death in the present with the confidence that one day their friend’s death will be swallowed up by a beautiful life everlasting!
While death is dreadful, God has prepared us for it! He wants us to face the death of a friend not with hopelessness, but with confidence. Paul continues: “Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:5-6).
We groan but we can be confident that a deceased child of God, while at this moment is absent, they await to be present with the Lord. In this way, there is a wonderful anticipation attached to death.
In facing death, we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary. What is unseen is Eternal! Paul says: "You think that what you see now is permanent? Let me tell you, it’s only temporary. You think that what is unseen is unreal? Let me tell you what awaits the child of God is not only real but is eternal!"
Satan seeks to rob our children of this assurance. Send him away with this truth. Tell your kids that when the trumpet of the Lord sounds, all of God’s children will rise to find their prepared room in the mansion of the Lord.
The child of God may rest secure in this truth. We will not live in eternity in a transitory, flimsy frame. Rather, God has prepared an eternal dwelling with Him.
Open the Bible with your kids and let the words of Jesus in John 14:1-3 flow over them: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
Use God’s Word to bring to settle their troubled hearts. Death of a friend is a circumstance in which our kids can either say, "I don’t understand this, and I’m just going to get mad about it"—a response that will lead down the road of despair and emptiness—or they will say, "I don’t understand this and I’m going to trust you God," a response leading them down the road to wholeness and healing.
Educate your child that just as they put their head on the pillow and go to sleep without fear, that's all death will be for those of us in Christ. Paul also spoke of this future awakening for God’s own: “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14).
After a loss of a friend, add hope to your child’s sorrow. While a son or daughter of God may fold up their tent too soon, the glorious news is that they will awaken at Jesus’ return to enter into an eternal home!