How can Christians find comfort in times of grief? They will find comfort by looking not at what they have lost but at what they have gained in Christ.

Source: The Banner of Sovereign Grace Truth, 2017. 2 pages.

As You Grieve, Consider What Jesus Gained

If truth will disciple us even in our grieving (Phil. 4:8), we must think more of what Jesus has gained by this death than upon what we have lost. At the moment the soul of a Christian is separated from the body, the divine purpose of His own sacrifice is fulfilled, the desire of God’s heart is satisfied, and holy joy is accomplished.

Fulfillment of Divine Purpose🔗

According to the Scriptures, God the Father chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world “that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” (Eph. 1:4). In other words, God set His free, sovereign, electing love upon us in eternity past to this end: that by virtue of His redemptive grace and power we should eventually become holy.

The Lord Jesus took on the full responsibility of procur­ing this salvation for His people by His obedient life and sacrificial death. The Father’s purpose became the Son’s pas­sionate goal. Ephesians 5:27 clearly affirms that the Christ who loved the church and gave Himself up for her did so for one clear purpose: “That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”

As the heavenly Bridegroom, Jesus has always had a marvelous purpose and vision for His redemptive activity — nothing less than seeing His blood-bought Bride cleansed from every vestige of sin and fully endowed with every Christ-like grace and virtue. When any true child of God dies, part of that purpose is wondrously fulfilled.

Because this is true, we can say in our grief, Yes, I have lost my loved one, but my Lord Jesus Christ has seen fulfilled another precious portion of the reward of His sufferings. In the midst of my grief, shall I not rejoice in His satisfaction?

God’s Heart’s Desire🔗

Some of the most wonderful promises in the Word of God concern the fact that Christ is always with us. Who can measure the ocean of comfort given to the people of God throughout the centuries from those precious words of Psalm 23:4: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”

However, as our Lord was about to leave His disciples by way of His death, resurrection, and ascension back to  heaven, He reveals that His will is for His people to be with Him where He is going (John 17:24). Prior to His return in power and glory, the only way for that prayer to be answered is for the believer to die and go to be with Christ, which is far better.

My heart breaks when I lose a loved one. But if that loved one belonged to Jesus, then death serves as the means for Jesus to receive the desire of His heart. In the midst of my grief, shall I not rejoice that His prayer has seen a further incremental fulfillment?

Added Joy🔗

In the death of one united to Christ, Jesus receives a new dimension of joy. We read in Hebrews 12:2 that “for the joy that was set before him (Jesus) endured the cross, despis­ing the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” What is the joy that was set before Him? Ultimately, it must be the joy that will be His when, at the marriage supper of the Lamb, He finally sees His heart’s desire fulfilled and He sits down to feast with His perfected and glorified Bride, the church (Rev. 19:6-9).

Whatever we lose in the death of dearly loved ones, remember this. We did not leave the privileges, the glories, and the joys of heaven itself in order to save our loved ones from eternal damnation. We did not undergo the agony of Gethsemane with its bloody sweat, nor did we endure the buffeting, the scourge-shredded back, the torturous act of crucifixion, the darkened face of God the Father, or the pain of hell itself.

Jesus has much more claim on our loved ones than we do. Let us not dare to entertain any secret thoughts — manifestations of unmortified self-will — that God is unfair in taking them from us. Instead, when our loved one has become our loss, we must consciously and deliberately direct our thoughts to the joy that our loss has become Jesus’ gain. Remember this clear and stirring declaration: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (Ps. 116:15).

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