Continued from How the Devil Attacks When You Lose Someone (Pt.1) 12 days after my sister passed away.
The battle continues and God is holding me together.
It has been an emotional rollercoaster. At times, I am filled with utter hope, absolutely at peace that God is in control. I would go walking in the Mount Lofty ranges and see the splendour of the autumn wilderness and think to myself – God is good.
Other times, life is gray. I would lie awake at night overcome with thoughts. Why did this have to happen? Why did my sister have to die so young? The devil would attack my mind with accusations. And my own humanistic questions would follow.
- God, didn’t you have purposes for her on Earth? What good will they come to now that she’s gone?
- Doesn’t earth need her more than heaven? Won’t she be all alone now without us?
- Did she really know that I loved her?
My struggle is to make sense of the death of my sister. But what do we do when the devil’s lies sound so true in our heads?
On Things Above
My answer has been in the Book of Colossians. An event such as death is extremely hard to comprehend for us as mere human beings. However, we can choose between two perspectives to view such situations. We can try to understand it from an earthly perspective. Or we can seek a heavenly perspective!
The Apostle Paul tells us that we need to throw off our worldly perspectives, and set our minds on the heavenly things above. We need God’s perspective.
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
Following my sister’s death, God has given me passages in The Bible to set my mind on the things above. This has brought immense peace and clarity. Looking retrospectively with the knowledge God has given me, my questions now seem almost absurd. I rejected the lies the devil wanted me to believe. Of course she knew I loved her! Our family often fondly reminisce over all the fun, heart-felt times we had together and it is clear she knew she was loved. We have realised that God had, and continues to have, purposes for her. Purposes that will be fulfilled even beyond her time here on earth (Isaiah 55:10-11, Hebrews 11:13). And of course she won’t be alone in heaven – I know that she’d be having an absolutely lovely time by Jesus’ side (Luke 23:43). Her every tear is wiped away in paradise! (Revelation 21:4)
I have learned that when we try to understand difficult events from our short-sighted, human perspectives, we end up going around in circles and sink into a downwards spiral of despair and confusion. The battle comes when the devil plants seeds of doubt and accusations that sound so true to us at the time. Beloved, never forget that he is the cunning father of all lies.
…He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
Therefore, we must seek God’s truth. Never accept the devil’s thoughts and earthly understanding in your heart. Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life (Proverbs 4:23)! The devil’s lies may sound like truth, but are actually subtle perversions of the truth. They sound convincing at first, but we need to trust that in whatever befalls us, God has the ultimate perspective. He has plans, purposes and solutions beyond a man’s understanding.
Situations like death are unique and complex, but God shares his understanding with us in his good and right timing (Daniel 2:21-23). God is the perfect teacher. But why doesn’t God explain everything to us all at once after an event? Consider the school teacher – does he teach quantum physics to a preschooler? No, he teaches what is fitting at the time for the person he is teaching. In the same way, God will give understanding of complex events in his own perfect timing and through his own perfect ways. He will grows us to the places we need to be in order to receive what he wants to teach us.
We must trust that he is a good teacher, even if all the puzzle pieces of our difficult situation don’t fit together for us just yet. We must trust that his perspective is supreme, that he can see what the big picture will look like when all the puzzle pieces eventually come together. Take heart, and know that the picture will be absolutely glorious!
Making Sense of Death
If I try to comprehend the death of my sister from an earthly point of view, it will not make sense. Even if I try to mix elements of an earthly perspective and a heavenly perspective together, and try to fit a piece-meal understanding together, it still will not make sense.
My pastor offered wise counsel at my sister’s funeral: I urge you to view this from a heavenly perspective, from God’s perspective and not from a human perspective. We need to trust that God is:
- The Alpha and the Omega, The Beginning and the End (Revelation 1:8 NKJV)
- Knows the End from the Beginning (Isaiah 46:10)
- A God whose thoughts are higher than ours, and whose ways are higher than ours. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
Thus, I will continue to take on God’s perspective – how Jesus sees the death of my little sister:
The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil [or, the evil to come (KJV)].
Those who walk uprightly enter into peace [fulfilment, restored relationship, absence of strife];they find rest [a state of salvation and victory] as they lie in death.
This is an active, continuing process. Whenever I find myself dwelling on my worldly perspectives and the lies of the devil, I take my thoughts captive and instead actively choose to remember and meditate on the perspectives that God has shared with me through his Word (2 Corinthians 10:5). Yes, his thoughts and ways are higher than ours, but he is a generous teacher. In fact, his understanding is very near to those who seek it!
Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.
Paul’s words in Colossians 3 warn us not to understand things from an earthly view. Our earthly perspectives are senseless and ignorant compared to God’s perspective (Isaiah 55:8-9). Think about it – how many times do we complain against God during difficult times, only to realise in later days, weeks and years how wonderful his plans are as we witness them falling into place? He is the Author of Life and our stories are not random (Acts 3:15). He has not left a single detail to chance. So we reject the devil and hold onto what God has already revealed to us in this situation, trusting that he will continue to give understanding in his time
I am comforted when I heard God reminding me recently – I am in control. Nothing that is happening to you is random, but I have a purpose in all of this.
So will we choose to see things from above or below? God calls out to us – “now choose life!”
This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.