By Whitney Hopler, Crosswalk.com
The pain of grief can be intense, even when we know that the person for whom we’re grieving trusted Christ for their salvation. Our loved ones who passed away may be having a wonderful time in heaven with God, but their absence in our lives causes a painful void. God can fill that void with his love when we reach out to him in prayer. Saying a prayer for the loss of a brother or sister in Christ connects us with God in ways that can comfort and heal us during mourning.
What Does the Bible Tell Us about Loss and Grief?
While the experience of losing a loved one will plunge us into painful grief, we can rely on God to be there for us while we’re grieving, the Bible says. Jesus assures us in Matthew 5:4: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” God himself will comfort us in our grief and any other troubling circumstances. Psalm 46:1 points out: “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.” Psalm 34:18 encourages us: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
The Bible also promises that everyone who connects with God through Jesus, the world’s Savior, will go to heaven. John 3:16 tells us: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Romans 10:13 declares: “… Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” In John 11:25, Jesus says: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die. and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” We can trust that the souls of people we love who have died trusting Jesus for their salvation will move on to heaven at the end of their earthly lives.
So, while we grieve the deaths of people we love at their funerals and beyond, we can grieve with hope because God keeps his promises. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 describes the reality of hope for grieving people: “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.” Isaiah 57:2 assures us that faithful people experience peace after they die: “Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.” Not only that but Psalm 116:15 says that God treasures the transitions of faithful people from earth to heaven: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants.”
2 Prayers for the Loss of a Brother or Sister in Christ
Feel free to adapt these prayers in any way that works best for you:
A prayer for the believer who has passed away: “Heavenly Father, even in the pain of my grief, I thank you for bringing [person’s name] into my life. Every day we got to spend together was a gift that I treasure. God, you know how much it hurts to miss [person’s name]. Please send me the comfort I need to encourage me while I grieve. Use my grieving to strengthen my faith. May I experience your presence with me in deeper ways, feel your love, and trust you more as I mourn. I’m grateful that [person’s name] trusted you for salvation, and I’m looking forward to seeing [person’s name] in heaven when the time is right. Please send [person’s name] my love and gratitude in the meantime. Help me to think of [his or her] legacy when I need inspiration for my own faith journey. Thank you, God. Amen.”
A prayer for the loved ones of the person who passed: “Our loving God, as we grieve the death of [person’s name] together, please send us the comfort we need. Let us find peace as we seek you. Please help us adjust to life without [person’s name] and let go of [him or her] here on earth. If you are willing to send us a heavenly sign that [person’s name] is well, please do so to encourage us. When we think about [person’s name] in heaven, let that inspire us to use each day you give us well. Strengthen our faith and help us do all we can to spread your love in this world. Allow us to sense your presence with us day by day in our grieving so that we can find hope, healing, and even joy despite our pain. May we emerge from grieving with stronger relationships – with you and with each other. Thank you, God. Amen.”
3 Ways We Find Comfort When a Believer Goes to Heaven
When we’re dealing with the pain of missing our loved ones who have passed away, we need comfort. Here are three ways we can find it:
1. Heavenly signs from God: If we pray to ask God for a sign that the person we miss is in heaven, God may send us that sign to comfort us and strengthen our faith through wonder. Job 9:10 declares about God, “He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.” In my book Wake Up to Wonder, I share a story about a heavenly sign I received after my beloved Grandma Lena’s death. Even though I knew that Grandma had a strong relationship with God, I wanted a sign because I needed comfort and encouragement after learning of her death. God graciously sent me that wondrous sign, which powerfully assured me that Grandma really was in heaven with him. Not only did it assure me, but it also boosted my faith by inspiring me with awe. We can feel free to ask God for a heavenly sign whenever one would help us as we grieve. God will answer our prayers in the best ways at the best times, but we can always present our requests to him with confidence. Hebrew 4:16 encourages us: “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
2. Peace from God: We can experience real peace – no matter how difficult our circumstances are – when we ask Jesus for it. Jesus promises us his peace, which is much stronger and more reliable than any temporary peace we can find in the world. He tells us in John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” In our grief, we don’t have the worry about anything but can pray about everything and find the peace we need. Philippians 4:6-7 encourages us: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” The peace that God offers surpasses the pain of our grief. As we experience God’s peace, we can find joy in his presence regardless of our circumstances.
3. Relationships with other caring believers: Other believers who care about us – including those who are also in mourning – can comfort us as God’s love flows through their lives into our lives. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 points out that believers can pass along the comfort they have received from God to others: “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 receive from God.” We can share our thoughts and feelings with our family of faith, receive comfort from them when we need help, and comfort others when they need our help. We can also celebrate the lives and legacies of the people we’re grieving by sharing stories about them with other believers.
When our brothers and sisters in Christ go to heaven, we’ll experience the pain of grief while we’re missing them, but we can find comfort in our relationships with God and other believers. We can also look forward to seeing our late loved ones again when it’s our time to go to heaven. Our mourning is an opportunity to grow closer to God and others in our spiritual family. We can find the hope and healing we need to emerge from our grief with a stronger faith.
Whitney Hopler is the author of the Wake Up to Wonder book and the Wake Up to Wonder blog, which help people thrive through experiencing awe. She leads the communications work at George Mason University’s Center for the Advancement of Well-Being. Whitney has served as a writer, editor, and website developer for leading media organizations, including Crosswalk.com, The Salvation Army USA’s national publications, and Dotdash.com (where she produced a popular channel on angels and miracles). She has also written the young adult novel Dream Factory. Connect with Whitney on Twitter and Facebook.