other Every once in a while I become aware of something in my life that needs to die. That might sound overly dramatic, but still true. We all have those relationships, habits, or ways of spending our time that are, well, sick. Many of the sick things in our life need to be killed. Some people take an aggressive slashing approach to killing things and others simply let them slide into a slow and painful death. I, personally, am a slasher.
As Christians we can rest assured that when something dies its death paves the way for new life. We see this principle in agriculture: a part of the plant (the seed) must die and be buried to become a new plant which will produce even more of the same. In the same way, when Jesus died he took the sting out of death and gave real life to those who choose to believe in him. In turn, those who believe must die to their selfishness and they will be given a more satisfying life than they could ever imagine.
This reminds me of the story of Lazarus found in John chapter 11. Here is a man who is famous for dying. Most of the chapter is focused on him being sick and the results of his death. You see, Lazarus needed to die. Here are three tips taken from Lazarus’ story for dealing with metaphorical or literal death in your life.
TALK TO JESUS
When Lazarus was sick (John 11:1-2), his sisters responded by asking Jesus to come…or you could say they “prayed” (vs. 3). And when Jesus did come, after their brother’s death, they both expressed their frustration with him (vs. 21 & 32). They understood that not only could Jesus have chosen to heal Lazarus, but also that he could handle their blame and anger over their brother’s death. There was no need to hide or deny their feelings. Often when we are hurting the temptation to wallow in our pain is strong. Martha ran to Jesus knowing that he would bring healing, but Mary chose to sit in her grief a bit longer (vs. 20). Both sisters were loved by Jesus (vs. 5), both were aware of Jesus’ proximity (vs. 20), and both eventually invited Jesus into their pain (vs. 35). Only when open communication was established did Jesus begin the process of healing, and eventually bringing forth new life.
INVITE OTHERS IN
When we experience the death of something (relationships, habits, pastimes), we often forget that other people feel that loss too. In the case of Lazarus, not only did Martha and Mary lose their brother, and Jesus lose his friend, but many others mourned too (vs. 16 & 19). One of the losses I’ve experienced recently was the end of another dating relationship. I forget that this is more than the death of my dream, but my parents grieve, my friends mourn and we all experience altered expectations. Martha and Mary understood that they were not alone in their grief and invited people into their pain (vs 19 & 20). They took solace in community.
VERBALIZE YOUR FAITH
Even in the throws of grief Martha encouraged Mary to go to Jesus (vs. 28 & 29) and in turn Mary lead others to the Lord by her example (vs. 31). Your pain is often your most compelling testimony. Verbalizing our faith in times of anguish is extremely powerful and can awaken us to the bigger picture of what God is doing (vs 24 & 27). Everything happens for God’s glory (vs. 4, 40) and our job is to point back to him (vs. 40, 41-42).
You’ll notice that Lazarus didn’t just up and die—he got sick first (vs. 1 & 2). When something is sick, the quality of life is greatly diminished. In fact, some things need to die in order to really live (vs. 11). There will probably be tears (vs. 33-35) and after 4 days the whole thing will likely stink (literally in vs. 38-39), but God is in the business of giving new life (vs. 25-26)! After Jesus restored life to Lazarus, he said this, “Unbind him, and let him go.” (vs. 44). Lazarus needed to die so that he could be set free to live. When God allows death, it is ALWAYS to bring about new life!
(Original posting on April 20, 2014 here: https://debsergeant.wordpress.com/2014/04/20/3-tips-for-dealing-with-death/)