The death of a parent (or any family member) can be truly taxing on a Christian. Even when the one we have lost is a believer, it is never easy to say goodbye, especially if the bereavement was sudden. Grieving for our loved ones is appropriate and expected; Christ Himself wept at the gravesite of His friend Lazarus (John 11:35). The Bible provides consolation, and we as Christians can find comfort even in the loss of someone so dear to us.
In the loss of a Christian parent, the greatest comfort a believer has is the hope and confidence that our relationship with our parents does not end at death. A Christian who has lost a Christian parent can rest in the promise that there will be a reunion in heaven. Our parent is currently with Christ, experiencing His joy (2 Corinthians 5:8). At the time of the resurrection, all who have accepted Christ will be glorified and given incorruptible bodies (1 Corinthians 15:42–44; John 11:25). For the Christian, Christ has conquered death! As Paul gladly writes in 1 Corinthians 15:54–57, “‘Death has been swallowed up in victory!’ ‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Losing a parent can be more difficult if we are uncertain of our parent’s salvation. But we can still cling to the promises of God and seek Him for comfort. We look forward to the time when all things shall be made new, and trust that He is just and good.
The God of the Bible delights in comforting the afflicted and healing the heartbroken (Jeremiah 17:14; 2 Corinthians 1:3–4; 7:6). He is “a father to the fatherless” (Psalm 68:5). When we are grieved by the loss of our loved ones, God is quick to offer us His peace. In the midst of our mourning, we can know the presence of God with us; even in our sorrow, we can draw near to Him in prayer and worship. As believers, we also do not have to grieve alone. We have others in the Body of Christ who will help bear the burden, share the pain, and “mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15).
The loss of our parents can be deeply painful, particularly since they play such a key role in shaping our lives. Indeed, our parents are often the ones who comfort us when we are hurting, and to lose them can feel like we are losing our emotional support. But Christians can take heart in that we find comfort in more than our families; the very God of Creation, who knows us better than we know ourselves, understands our pain and is eager to grow us and heal us and give us His peace.