Have you ever been asked that question? My 8 year-old is struggling to cope (as are we all) with the recent death of his grandmother. She was a beloved woman in her community, church and family. She was gentle, compassionate, and kind and my 8 year-old, Nati was very close to her. The other night, before bed, when it got quiet, he knew she was in heaven, but needed to know a few more details about the situation. If you are a parent and you have been through this already, you know that it sparks some big questions for your children. It is important as believers that we answer them as carefully and accurately as we can. The bible is our authority. This means that we speak when God does on the matter and remember that anything else is just personal conjecture. Here are just a few things I told him and why.
When Grandma died, she was instantly with the Lord!
The Apostle Paul tell us “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” (II Cor. 5:6) When the Christian’s body dies, his or her Spirit goes to be with Jesus. This is confirmed by Jesus in the gospels as well! When Jesus spoke to the repentant thief on the cross Jesus said to him, “And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Lk. 23:43) After the moment of death, the believer is somehow transferred to the presence of Jesus. We can take solace in this important biblical truth. Our relatives who have passed on are in complete fellowship with their Savior. I told Nati, that grandma is with Jesus.
When Grandma died, she went to be with her people!
The bible also tells us that those who die in Christ will be with their Christian relatives as well. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were all said to have been “gathered to their people” after death (Gen. 25:8, 35:29, 49:29). This doesn’t mean that their bodies were put in the same graveyard as some have argued. Jacob is “gathered to his people” according to chapter 49:33 and not buried among his fathers until 40 days later. I told Nati that there was a great uniting that happened the other night when grandma went into eternity and was gathered to her people. A great celebration happened in heaven because of the goodness of the gospel! I told Nati, that grandma is with her people.
Grandma’s body will rise again!
I Corinthians 15 is all about resurrection. It is a great chapter that explains to Christians what it will be like at Christ’s return. I Corinthians 15:20-23 says, “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming,” We also know that our bodies will be like Christ’s resurrected body. Both John and Paul tell us this in the New Testament. John says in I John 3:2, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.” Paul tells us in Philippians 3:20-21, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform]the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.” I told Nati, that grandma will rise again….
Don’t despair Christian.. We serve a God of resurrection!
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep]in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
–I Thessalonians 4:13-18