Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 17 Number 10 October 2015
Page 2


Left Behind

Louis RushmoreThe real left behind are not the supposed post-premillennial rapture refuse of ungodly souls per that anti-biblical and unscriptural manmade, denominational doctrine that has been and continues to be so popular with the majority of the religious crowd in Christendom. The real left behind are the survivors whose parents, children, spouses, other family members or friends have passed away. “We who are alive and remain” (1 Thessalonians 4:15) have been left behind, and we grieve. The severity of our grief varies from person to person, differs respecting who it is that left us behind (e.g., acquaintance, friend, grandparent, sibling, aunt or uncle, spouse, child, etc.) and fluctuates in keeping with the depth of the relationship we enjoyed with the deceased (i.e., the closer the relationship and the more love exchanged). In any case, we grieve because we have been left behind by our loved ones.

We who have been left behind find ourselves overwhelmed with a myriad of often simultaneous and involuntary feelings. There is that biting, overshadowing umbrella of loneliness and a sense of abandonment. At the same time, there is the stifling and stuffy delirium of sadness and depression that leads us to throw away formerly held human and earthly aspirations as though there is little left for which to live and no expectation of ever enjoying anything again or even any longer maintaining a longing for life. Life, death and eternity become the only realities. An embarrassing spontaneous bitterness arises, really with no one or anything toward which to direct it, though some mourners fashion the object of their resentment in the form of the departed loved one or even at God. Collectively, such an emptiness and void in the lives of those who are left behind is a dark, bottomless pit of misery.

Tears flow, resisting every effort for their abatement, in the quiet, idle moments of a road trip, during the dark alone hours of early morn or when attempting to sing church hymns (most of which are either about heaven or death, and singing itself summons one’s emotions to the surface). Losing a spouse with whom one was especially close for many decades amounts to a drastic amputation more severe one thinks than surrendering bodily limbs. Clearly half of me is gone, and I am not me any more without my better half. “How?” we posture aloud, “can we possibly go on?” The thought was too terrible to contemplate that one of us would die and leave the other behind that I once mused that it would be better for us were we to die together, maybe in one of those sometimes headlines of a fatal plane crash. As we were aboard an international flight and accompanied by other missionaries with whom we were laboring for the Lord, one of them piped up, “Wait a minute! I’m on this plane, too!” Alas, though, others and I painfully find ourselves left behind.

What are we to do? First, acknowledge that the pain of our losses likely will never go away, but that with the passing of time the unbearable pain presently borne will eventually become more bearable. Secondly, observe that death has distinguished for us between things that don’t really matter and what really matters (i.e., things spiritual and relating to eternity). Thirdly, filling one’s life with Christian service and routine will provide automated purpose and direction to help us through the numbing period when we lack sufficient enthusiasm to be thoughtful and reflective in our daily lives. Christian service, routine (e.g., exercise, time to eat, sit on the back porch before retiring for the night, etc.) and duty will get us out of our beds to which perhaps we would rather like to retreat and stay for the next hundred years.

Fourthly, look for the opportunities in the single life to accentuate one’s value to our Lord Jesus Christ as fruitful servants.

There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world โ€” how she may please her husband. And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction. (1 Corinthians 7:34-35 NKJV)

Fifthly, we who have been left behind can harbor an internal, personal hope of reacquainting ourselves with the souls who have parted from us. “But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me” (2 Samuel 12:23 NKJV). Yet, the relationship will not be the same as it was; for instance, there are no marriages in heaven (Matthew 22:24-30), but marriage is an earthly relationship dissolved at death (Romans 7:2). Sixth, “we who are alive and remain” can rejoice by remembering the years during which we were able to treasure the association with our loved one, thanking God for that. Seventh, some of us may find the sweet comfort of renewed companionship by entertaining a new โ€“ but not a replacement โ€“ love. For some, that will involve remarriage with God’s blessing (Romans 7:2-3; 1 Corinthians 7:39; 1 Timothy 5:14). “Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent; and he took Rebekah and she became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother's death” (Genesis 24:67).

Eighth, we who have been left behind have every reason to take to heart more fully in our thoughts and plans the biblical phrase, “if the Lord wills” (James 4:15; 13-16). Make plans, but do so with the full realization that God may overrule us. Ninth, if not completely subsided in this life, our tears will be removed in the heavenly hereafter where there is no death (Revelation 21:4). Tenth, the sheer joy of heaven will sufficiently overshadow our current sorrows, no matter how deeply they are felt on this terrestrial sphere (Matthew 13:44).

Comparatively speaking, life is short (Job 14:1-2; Psalm 90:10; 1 Peter 1:24). It matters not as much how long we live, but rather what we do with our lives as long as we live. We who are left behind need to live our lives fully and let God make the determination as to when we will finally be granted release (Philippians 1:20-24) to enjoy the foretaste of heavenly bliss (Luke 16:19-31). In the meantime, we who are left behind need to consign ourselves to Christian service, leaning on our Lord for the comfort that we so desperately need. That comfort is afforded to us through our Christian brethren. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

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