This is the third and last post in this series on what to say to your children when someone close to them dies. The topic of death is challenging. But as Christians, we should not fear talking about it. Jesus Christ has won the victory over death. Our children must see that we have the faith and courage to actually live out this reality. This is the test of whether we live by faith or by sight. Our children know the difference. In order to comfort our children we must experience comfort ourselves. This is Paul’s message in his second letter to the Corinthians.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. –2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Paul writes as one who has known the comfort of God. He himself has received comfort. Therefore, he is able to bring comfort to others. So, parents, you too must know the comfort of God. You must not believe the lies of the culture about death. You must be firmly grounded in God’s view of death. It is impossible to live as if this world really matters most and then make a sudden transition to thinking and acting biblically when something as disturbing as an unexpected death occurs. We can prepare for such unexpected events only by having God’s thoughts in our hearts day by day. That is one of the practical benefits of faithfully following Deuteronomy 6 and daily imparting the things of God. 0o your children.
One passage that is very helpful when there are unexpected, life dominating events is Psalm 46. This psalm doesn’t pull any punches. It acknowledges how devastating life can be, but it also acknowledges how total the comfort of God is for his people. Let’s take a look at some key verses in the psalm.
1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
This truth is reality for the psalmist. He truly believes this. Paul is expressing a similar thought in 2 Corinthians, and that truth must be your bottom line belief. That is where your heart must reside each day. Now, look at verses 2-3:
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
While these words obviously apply to natural disasters, they apply even more powerfully to the emotional impact of an unexpected life dominating event. When an expected death occurs it does feel like the earth has given way–it is an emotional earthquake. But notice that the psalmist says that because God is his refuge he will not fear, even in the face of tragedy. This is the truth of verse 7:
The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
God is his fortress. God is with him. He is living by faith. Even though devastating troubles have occurred, God is his refuge and strength. While this kind of faith will not change events or take away deep hurt, God is there to bring comfort and strength. God is our refuge and strength. Your strong belief in these realities–your reliance on God’s strength–can and will be a source of comfort to your children in troubling times. This is also true for those of you who are pastors or youth workers. Your genuine faith in the God of Psalm 46 can bring comfort to those who need the comfort that only God can give.