Death hurts. It’s true that it is the common denominator for each of us, but that in itself is not a comfort. It just identifies the problem, but doesn’t provide a hopeful solution. What do you say to someone grieving the loss of a loved one? We want to be caring, compassionate and empathetic. However, there are words that, while meant to be helpful, actually have the wrong impact. Those words usually begin with “God needed…” and explain why that person died (God was in need of another carpenter, choir member, angel, etc). God needed them.
Did he really? God needed that person? Herein lies the problem with such attempts at comfort. God doesn’t need anything. In actuality, pointing to a perceived need of God lessens the power of the intended comfort. How can we be certain that a God with personal needs is able to meet ours? How can a God with needs bring about true healing in our time of greatest agony?
Paul addressed the lack of needs that God has in Acts 17:24-25. “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.”
Revelation gives a beautiful picture in which the sun and moon are not even needed: “And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.” (Rev 21:22-23)
That is some glorious perspective. The Bible is clear. God doesn’t need anything. He is self sufficient. Any time we lower the supremacy of God to try to bring comfort, we actually are accomplishing the opposite effect. We are bringing a false comfort not grounded in truth. Pragmatic anecdotes are not beneficial.
My dog constantly is eating out of our garbage cans (all sorts of nasty stuff). The fact that my dog swallows the garbage does not mean it is helpful (as evidenced within a couple hours of eating). We must be careful of the words we are feeding people. Anything that presents a low view of God is not helpful for that person’s soul in the midst of their suffering.
While dealing with death is difficult, a biblical understanding of God is enough to bring comfort. Death is the awful enemy. Yet, it is an enemy that was defeated by the resurrection of Jesus. There is hope found in him even through death’s valley and at death’s door.
Many people want their confidence to be in knowing the “why’s”. The belief is that in knowing the reasons why something occurred, there will be understanding. We may never know the specific reasons why something happened. Comfort is stifled. However, when we focus on the “Who” instead of the “why”, we can confidently move forward and bring comfort even when the reasons are elusive.
Share the supreme God of the Bible who is able to comfort the broken and hurting. He, after all, is their greatest need. He is enough, even in times as difficult as death.