It brought a special kind of sadness when the world had to say goodbye to talented young Canadian actor Cory Monteith. The soft spoken and humble star of Glee will be terribly missed, and it is yet another harsh reminder of the fragility and brevity of life on this earth.
In many ways, the passing of Monteith must feel very much like the loss of a loved one to so many, regardless of whether or not they knew him. If you have ever bonded with actors in movies and television, there is a sense of grief when they die – especially when it is unexpected and untimely.
It is also in times like these that I struggle with how to help my friends who are in a state of real mourning over Monteith’s death, so I sought out answers from the One who conquered death and granted us eternal life. This narrative came to mind:
A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha. When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days.
When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled. “Where have you put him?” he asked them.
They told him, “Lord, come and see.”
Then Jesus wept (John 11:1;17;32-35).
Lazarus was a young man who also was one of Jesus’ best friends, and even though He knew that He would bring Lazarus back from the dead within a short space of time, Jesus chose to enter into the grief and display emotion in a way that no Hebrew men did in that day.
Because Jesus wanted to show us the right perspective on grief and how to help those who are blindsided by an unexpected and untimely death.
First, we need to realize that grief is a perfectly natural response to the pain of loss. We may feel odd about feeling sorrow over someone who is in reality a stranger to us, but anytime the demons fulfill their purpose of sowing destruction and cut our lives short, heartache is healthy. Jesus wept because the loss of his friend broke His heart.
Second, we need to remember that all grief serves a purpose in our lives. It is an effective reminder that our days are numbered, so we need to treasure each and every moment we are given. Perhaps Jesus also wept because Lazarus’ death reminded Him that His life on earth would soon be over.
Friends, life is way too short to waste on petty problems and the things we can’t control, and grief reawakens that truth into our perspective. C.S. Lewis (a man who was well acquainted with grief), put it this way:
“But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
Finally, we need to resist the urge to isolate from grief. Too often we clam up when we are hurting, or we avoid those who are going through loss and death. But Jesus risked being killed before He could go to the Cross by attending Lazarus’ funeral, and He faced an angry family for not saving their brother sooner. But despite all these reasons to stay away, Jesus met death in the face and ministered to those who needed Him.
Do you need Him right now? He is weeping right beside you in your loss, no matter how deep or painful. He is the Good Shepherd who promises that even when your journey takes you through the valley of the shadow of death, you do not need to fear.
Do your friends need Him right now? When Jesus stood by the grieving members of Lazarus’ family, He made one of the most comforting statements found in all of Scripture:
“I am the resurrection and the life.Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die” (John 11:25).
When you stand by your friends who have suffered loss, watch and pray for opportunities to comfort them with the truth that death is only a temporary thing for those who have trusted in Jesus. It is not the final say or the last hour for any believer – rather it is a gateway into the presence of the One who awaits those who know Him.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Cory Monteith, and whether or not his death has impacted you personally, may you find peace in the midst of whatever you are grieving and an open door to share the only truth that can truly bring perspective and healing in the midst of death.
Flashpoint: Ignite Into Action
Tragedies such as Cory Monteith’s death present believers with an opportunity to come alongside our friends in their grief and help them process the pain. Let’s remember the example of Jesus when He lost His friends. He not only brought comfort, but also the message that He is the Resurrection and the Life.
Accelerant: Fuel for THE Cause
Pray: Jesus, we praise You for showing us how to help those in grief and how to deal with loss in our own lives. Give us soft hearts and sensitive spirits as we share the hope of heaven and the truth that You are the Resurrection and the Life.
Read: Romans 12:15. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.
Get: “What does the Bible say about overcoming grief?” Explore more Biblical passages about dealing with grief in this helpful article from gotquestions.com.
Discussion Questions for Leaders:
Big Idea: Grieving is a natural reaction to loss that reorients our perspective on life and gives us opportunities to share the gospel for THE Cause.
Key Scripture: John 11:1; 17; 32-35
- What is your reaction to Cory Monteith’s death?
- Why do people tend to isolate themselves from grief?
- How can we enter into grief like Jesus did?
- In what ways could you apply this Soul Fuel to THE Cause?