Surviving the Loss

In my previous post, I shared on how to deal with grief which is a predictable response to the loss of a friend or even a priced possession.

Many people have “snapped” and ended up doing much damage to others and their own selves, because grief can make people say, do and think irrational things.

There is a misguided belief that I’ve encountered – and I think it’s rooted in ignorance – that a Christian who dies from an accident, sickness or natural disaster must have lacked faith in God or His approval to have so died. This is a myopic thinking.

The Bible indicates that accidents can happen to anyone at anytime (Eccl. 9:11). As Wayne Grudem points out in his work, Bible Doctrine, death is a reality, whether for Christians or non-Christians; it doesn’t mean that it’s a penalty for their individual sin.

We live in a fallen world and we all experience injuries, ageing, and natural disasters (floods, violent storms and earthquakes). Although God does answers prayers to deliver Christians (and also non-Christians) from some of these effects of the Fall for a time, nevertheless, Christians eventually experience these things.

Our salvation doesn’t make us immune to illness, ageing or physical death. Death which is “the last enemy” is not yet destroyed (1Cor 15:26). Until then, all of humanity is still subject to it.

While the world’s highest goal is preserving one’s own physical life at all costs, for a Christian, obedience to God and faithfulness to Him even in death is our greatest goal (Phil. 1:20, Rev. 12:11).

One of my friends, Wale, who lost his mother to cancer said to me, “Even though she died at the time she was supposed to enjoy the fruit of her labour on us, I’m somewhat relieved that she is no more in pain. And I’m glad that she accepted Christ as her Lord. She prayed for each one of us before her death.”

For a Christian, death is not the end, it is only an exit door to be with God in eternal glory. Drawing spiritual strength from Christ during a loss is also vital because you are more vulnerable to superstitions, hallucinations and false beliefs at that period.

Some people claim to see or hear the deceased – in dream or reality – and from there conclude that the dead do protect the living.

Many cultures actually perform various rites to honour the dead, and in some cases, supposedly invoke “their spirits” to avenge their death.

I saw a video clip of a bereaved young lady talking to her father’s remains: “Father take care of us as if you are alive … rest but don’t forget us and don’t sleep, don’t rest.”

Though, there are cultural precepts for these practices, they are unscriptural prayers (or concepts) that shouldn’t find a place among Christians. When a person dies, his spirit has departed. It’s unbiblical and illogical to suggest that a person gains the ability to answer prayers or protect because he is dead.

Finding a support group where you can talk about your loss is also helpful. Some grieving person’s need someone to talk to and share their feelings with. This is why Christians should not neglect those who are bereaved; they need our support, encouragement and prayers.

If you are still experiencing grief, you can write down what you like about the deceased and the moments you shared. You can also make an album of photographs or letters.

Participate in new activities that will fill that void. You can also use your experience to encourage others. I know a widow who lost her husband to prostate cancer. It was really tough on her, but later, she began to mine something positive out of her loss. She began advocating for men to go for prostate cancer screening and share how she overcame her own brush with grief and depression.

I also read about a woman named Valene who lost her 19 year old son to brain tumour. Her husband committed suicide due to the grief. But she finally overcame her pain and today has a support group to help other people heal after a loss. 

There is light at the end of a dark tunnel. Sometimes life takes us through the valley so we can help comfort others who will pass through the same. 

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Dealing with Grief and Loss

“I was asleep in my dorm room when my sister called. She was frantic and crying, and said mum was in a plane crash. It took me a while to digest. It was the longest night of my life,” says Jimmy.

“On Sunday morning, when I later called home, my father told me they found her, but that she didn’t make it. I think at that moment, my legs buckled and the room seemed like it was spinning and I couldn’t understand it,” he said.

A widow whose husband died at work told a reporter: “He wasn’t sick before he left the house. He wasn’t given to fasting, so he would always eat well. We ate together before he left the house that morning. So, how did it happen? What happened to him?”

Holding her baby in her arms, she broke down in tears, “He never came back! They only brought his bag home. I never knew I wouldn’t see him again. The next time I saw him was in death. Who would take care of his four children?”

These scenarios play out all over the world. We have all received news of someone’s demise before. He or she could be a friend, relative, marriage partner, colleague, church member, or a lover. We all know how we felt at that moment.

“When I received news of my mother’s death, I fainted,” said Tope (who at the time didn’t know his father). “My mother put in all her effort for me to get educated. Death took her away. My hope was gone.”

The first normal reaction to the death of a loved one is sorrow and grief. Grief is a natural response to loss, and loss comes in different forms. It is an emotional suffering one feels when someone (or something) one loves is taken away.

The more significant the loss is, the more intense the grief. And the death of a loved one results in the most intense grief. Such loss usually inflicts a wound on a person’s heart and its scars can remain for a long time.

Some Christians believe weeping over someone’s death indicates a lack of faith. But the Bible furnishes us with examples of godly men and women who wept over tragic losses.

Abraham was a man of faith, yet when Sarah died, he “came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her” (Gen. 23:2). David wept over his son, Absalom’s death (2 Sam. 18:33).

When the Lord Jesus got to Lazarus’ tomb, He wept (Jn. 11:35). When Stephen died, devout men “made great lamentation over him” (Acts 8:2). God is not against crying over a loss. And it’s not an indication of lack of faith.

Grief has several symptoms. This includes sadness, depression, anger, social withdrawal, anxiety, apathy, loneliness, longing for who was lost, blaming of self or others and questioning of beliefs.

People differ in the way they grieve, sometimes depending on culture. Some people resort to alcohol, illegal drugs or abuse of prescription drugs to cope with grief. The duration of the grieving also varies from person to person.

According to a Medical textbook:

“Regardless of the duration of the grieving process, there are two basic goals: (1) healing the self and (2) recovering from the loss. Other factors that influence grieving are the type of loss, life experiences with various changes and transitions, religious beliefs, cultural background, and personality type” (Brunner & Suddarth’s Textbook of Medical-Surgical Nursing, 12th edition, Wolters Kluwer Health, 2010, pp. 105-106).

There are three main stages of grief:

(1) Early reaction – this is the stage when you newly received the news of (or witnessed) the death of a loved one. It is characterized by initial shock, disbelief, denial, emotional numbness, and anger.

At this stage, there is a tendency to become angry at the doctors, the hospital, the system, the deceased one for not taking his own health seriously and even at God for taking the person away at a critical time.

Stella, who lost her father reflects, “My mother was too flippant with my dad’s health and my dad was too stubborn. If he had listened to her he wouldn’t have died.” This is a normal stage of grief. A bereaved person lashes out at friends and relatives.

(2) Acute grief – characterized by mood changes, guilt, self-condemnation, extreme fatigue, insomnia, appetite changes, reduced work capacity, hallucinations – feeling, hearing or seeing the deceased.

A grieving person struggles with guilt. Some blame themselves for talking harshly to the deceased; for what they didn’t say or do; for not doing enough.

Ayo, who lost his wife during childbirth lamented, “The most painful thing for me is that she suffered so much before she died. She cried and bled on and on, but that did not even move [the nurses on duty] … I only took her there because that was where she had her antenatal and they knew her health history. If I had known I would have taken her to a private hospital.”

(3) Levelling off period – characterized by acceptance of the tragedy, sadness with nostalgia, more pleasant memories of the deceased and sometimes with humour. This is the stage where people recover.

It must be emphasized, however, that there is no fixed pattern of grief or time frame that everyone must follow to recover. The grieving process can be intense or shorter for many people as time goes by.

How to cope with grief after a loss.

I. Make a conscious determination to move on with life. That implies that you shouldn’t let others dictate to you how you must grieve.

Some people will tell you if don’t cry enough, you are not sorry about the loss, while some will say that you have to “be strong” in the face of a loss i.e must not cry. These are myths reinforced by cultural stereotypes.

Don’t force yourself into a mould created by the society. A grieving person needs to let out that pain and the easiest way is to cry. Though as Christians, we shouldn’t mourn like those who have no hope (1 Thess. 4:13-14).

II. Do not grieve alone. The grieving period is the time to turn to family and friends for support. Don’t burn all your bridges. “A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; he rages against all wise judgement” (Proverbs 18:1).

It’s dangerous for a grieving person to be abandoned by people. Even when Job experienced tragedy, his friends came around to comfort him (Job 2:11). If you are comforting a grieving person, you may not need to talk much, your presence and sympathy alone go a long way.

When I lost a close friend in 2012, I visited her mother. She was overwhelmed with grief. As I was struggling to offer some words of comfort, I sensed that she needed someone to listen to her tell her side of what happened. She had been accused of killing her daughter and had a lot of anger on the inside, but my presence assured her that at least someone wasn’t judging her, and that made a difference.

III. Don’t be in haste to make any critical decision. This includes moving to a new place, selling or giving away your home or items belonging to the deceased or entering a new romantic relationship. Give yourself some time to reflect on the steps you want to take.

When you are under a huge emotional stress, your sense of judgement may be clouded and you may regret some decisions later if you make them hastily. “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty” (Prov. 21:5).

IV. Look after your physical health. Grief causes either a loss of or increase in appetite for food or sleep. If these are not checked, they can affect one’s physical health. It is normal for a bereaved person to feel disoriented and anxious, but adhering to your normal daily duties and activities can help.

Have a specific time to sleep, get up, eat or do certain chores. You can combat fatigue and stress by eating, sleeping and exercising right. Avoid numbing your feeling with drugs or alcohol.

V. Find your feet spiritually. Grief makes a person vulnerable to doubting the love and power of God. There is a sort of anger that is often directed at God for not answering our prayers made for the deceased to live or for taking the person away at a critical time.

A certain man who lost his four children in a building collapse cried “I thought God would even spare one of them for me. But they came to tell me that none of them is alive.” This pain leads to doubt or apathy towards the things of God.

The devil uses such painful experiences to attack our helmet of salvation and break off our shield of faith. Some people can direct their anger inward driving them to suicide. This is why the grieving period is the time to renew one’s faith in God’s Word and seek solace in Him in prayer, otherwise it’s easy to fall away.

In the midst of that loss, look up to “the father of mercies and the God of all comfort” (2Cor. 1:3) and allow the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to comfort you in your grief. Open your heart to Jesus, the Balm of Gilead to heal your pain.

Weighing the Grail Message: The World Teacher

Virtually every New Age/occult group is expectant of the emergence of a great world teacher who will physically manifest on earth to usher in what they call “the New Age,” the “New Order” or “the Age of Aquarius” (the terms vary but the concept is the same).

New Agers/occultists believe the forthcoming Age of Aquarius ruled by this “World Teacher” or “Lord Maitreya” will be characterized by love, harmony, peace, joy and abundance and will put an end to this current era/aeon which they term “the Age of Pisces.”

This “paradigm shift” has been predicted way back in the 18th century by Emmanuel Swedenborg, a Swedish mystic who received his messages from fallen angels.

New Agers today are taught not only to look forward to the new age but also to work with the Spiritual Hierarchy in bringing it forth on earth through rituals and dissemination of their messages (just as the Grail movement does).

When we integrate biblical understanding with these occult nuances, it’s clear that the ominous yet powerful world teacher that will be revealed is none other than the Antichrist.

In his lecture titled the World Teacher, Oskar Bernhardt, though resorting to semantic acrobatics and esoteric clichés, aligns himself with the Antichrist and his philosophy – one more proof of the diabolic source of the Grail message.

All quotes in this article are taken from volume 1 chapter 31 of In the Light of Truth by Abdrushin.

The World Teacher is the Son of Man. He is called World Teacher not because He is to teach the World, and will perhaps found a religion that unites the World … rather, He is called World Teacher because he explains the “World” and brings the teaching about the World. That which man really must know!

The anti-Christ will indeed be a world teacher since there’s an ascendancy created for him in the belief systems of various false religions.

Muslims are expectant of their Mahdi; Jews still await their messiah; Hindus believe Kalkin, the final avatar (incarnation) of the Hindu god, Vishnu, will appear in the future.

Buddhists are watching out for the Fifth Buddha (Maitreya) and New Agers await a “Christ” who now heads a hierarchy of spirits in the astral plane to manifest. The coming Antichrist will fulfill these roles.

Granted, Christians also look forward to the second coming of Jesus Christ, but His coming and its purpose stand in stark contrast to that of the Antichrist.

The Bible describes this Antichrist as “the Assyrian, the rod of [God’s] anger (Is. 10:5), “a Destroyer of nations” (Jer. 4:7), “the little horn” who will wage war against the saints (Dan. 7:20-21; Rev. 13:7) and “a stern-faced king, a master of intrigue” who will speak arrogant and blasphemous words (Dan. 8:23 cf. Dt. 28:50).

He is described as the “Man of sin,” “the son of perdition,” “the Wicked one” whose coming shall be “after the working of Satan with all power and lying signs and wonders” (2 Thess. 2:3, 9) and “the Beast” out of the sea of humanity who will look like the Lamb (Jesus) but speak like the dragon (Satan). He will also be given authority over every people, language and nation (Rev. 13:1-8).

Daniel 8:23 describes him as a man that will “understand dark sentences.” The Hebrew noun for dark sentences is used of Samson’s riddle (Judg. 14:12), the Queen of Sheba’s hard questions (1 Kgs. 10:1) and dark sayings of the wise (Prov. 1:6), which are too deep to be understood by the simple.

This implies that the anti-Christ will dazzle and deceive humanity with esoteric teachings, deep philosophy and self-exalting words. Fittingly, Abdrushin says the coming world teacher will bring teachings about the world.

Behind this World Teacher, visible to pure clairvoyants, stands radiantly the great Cross of Redemption, as once it did with Christ! It can also be said that “He bears the Cross!” Which, however, has nothing to do with suffering or martyrdom.

Grail adherents claim to have a mystical revelation of the divine figure Abdrushin actually embodies. Of course, they may not divulge this to outsiders. But from what Abdrushin taught, it’s clear that he also pointed to the coming of a future “Christ”.

Notice that Abdrushin says this world teacher is already visible to clairvoyants – those who see into the spirit realm.

New Agers generally believe that their coming “Christ” has been in the physical plane in one form or the other before. To them, every era has its own world teacher; thus, the Christ of Nazareth has passed, but “another Christ” will come as the world ruler.

The Hierarchy of spirits that their “Christ” heads in the Shamballa plane (the spirit realm) wields much influence over the world and individuals. But this Hierarchy is visible only to mortals who have received 5 levels of occult initiation or “overshadowing.”

While the “great world teacher” will administer the first two initiations on humanity, the other three will be administered by “the Great Hierophant,” a.k.a. Sanat Kumara or Solar Logos – Lucifer/Satan. Thus, a renowned New Age leader, David Spangler wrote:

Lucifer prepares man for the experience of Christhood. [He is] the great initiator … Lucifer works within each of us to bring us to wholeness, and as we move into a New Age … each of us in some way is brought to that point which I term the Luciferic initiation … for it is an invitation into the New Age” (Reflections on the Christ, Findhorn, 1977, 44-45).

From the bible, we see that Satan is the power behind the coming great teacher and his kingdom:

“The dragon [Satan] gave the beast [Antichrist] his power and throne and great authority.”

This will culminate in an era of universal Satanism: “Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast” (Rev. 13:2, 4).

In fact, all those whose names have not been written in the book of life will worship and follow this “great teacher” and receive his diabolical mark on their hands and foreheads. The Grail message leads in that very direction.

The connection will immediately be understood as soon as the true meaning of the actual “Cross of Redemption” is known. The Cross of Redemption does not have the same meaning as Christ’s Cross of Suffering, through which mankind could indeed not be redeemed…

Here, we see a distinguishing feature of all false religions: a rejection of the cross and the redemption Christ obtained through it.

The term “redemption” is from the Greek word agorazo and it means “to purchase in the marketplace.” The word is used to describe the believer being purchased out of the slave market of sin and set free from sin’s bondage by death of Christ (1 Cor. 6:20; 7:23; Rev. 5:9; 14:3).

It’s also from the word lutroo, which means “to obtain release by the payment of a price.”

Believers have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ to be a special possession for God (1 Pet. 1:18; Tit. 2:4).

But the Grail message, typical of New Age spirituality, rejects the reality of sin, the Fall of man, the redemption by Christ’s blood, His vicarious death on the cross and substitutionary atonement, so they reject these biblical terms. They don’t go with their grand plan.

The Cross was already known before Christ’s time on earth. It is the sign of Divine Truth! Not merely the symbol, but the living form for It … The Cross of Rays, or the radiating Cross, is therefore the Truth in its original-inherent form. And since man can ascend only through the Truth, and in no other way, the human spirit finds redemption only in recognition or knowledge of Divine Truth!

Here, the true meaning and purpose of the cross has been distorted and given an esoteric meaning.

Of course, the “truth” Abdrushin preached is not by any means new: it largely consists of Hindu, Kabbalistic, Gnostic and medieval occult myths and concepts which he fine-tuned a bit and laced with distorted biblical terms.

The idea of being redeemed by secret knowledge is the warp and woof of Gnosticism. Such occult philosophies do not take people to any ascent but plunge them into the depth of Satan’s delusions.

From the book of Revelation, we see that the Antichrist which will emerge as the world teacher will be used by a demonic prototype that ascends from the abyss where demons and some fallen angels are confined (Rev. 11:7-8, 17:11 cf. Lk. 8:31; Rev. 9:1-21, 11:7).

He “was, is and is to come” i.e. he had existed on earth before John’s day, was not on earth in John’s day, but will ascend from the abyss in the future and ultimately go into destruction.

Again, the Bible shows that the kingdom of the Antichrist which will be revived when he comes will be an amalgam of previous 4 world empires: Babylon (lion), Medes-Persia (bear), Greece (leopard) and the fourth beast (Rome), which was the “most terrifying and frightening and very powerful” (see Dan. 7:3-7 cf.  Rev. 13:2).

Therefore, if Abdrushin’s “cross of rays” has been in existence before the time of Christ, then it’s a code term for the anti-Christ’s philosophy.

And since the Son of God and the Son of Man who is now coming are the sole Bringers of the undimmed Truth, bearing it within Themselves. They must both naturally also bear the Cross inseparably within and upon Themselves; that is, They must be Bearers of the Radiant Cross, Bearers of Truth…

This is where Grail adherents derived their dubious “cross bearers” moniker. They have appropriated a term into which a baggage of ideas has been read by their guru.

They are not bearers of the cross of Jesus Christ, however, but the “cross” of the antichrist which is no cross at all but occult mysticism.

The same will also be seen on the Son of Man! The Dove above Him, the Cross of Redemption behind Him … They are the unmistakable signs of His genuine Mission to fulfill the prophecies. They are the signs that cannot be imitated. They are indestructible, warning, and, despite the terrible gravity, they are at the same time promising! Before these alone all darkness must retreat!

The “Son of Man” being referred to here is what New Agers also call Lord Maitreya , the head of the Hierarchy, subordinate to Lucifer. The biblical prophecies of Jesus’ first coming do not apply to His second coming.

On the other hand, the New Spirituality teaches that the hierarchy of fallen angels needs to be ‘externalised’ on the physical plane; on earth, when the human race has fully evolved into homo universalis.

Thus, at the dawn of the New Age, people on earth will have one universal identity, goal and religion (a sort of spiritual totalitarianism).

Occultists are taught to work in bringing the astral plane where the hierarchy lives to the physical plane and vice versa through demonic interactions. This is what they sum up as, “As above, so below.”

From the Bible, we see that the “sweet light” of the Antichrist’s kingdom is only to get the human race to take its diabolic mark; all those who worship the beast and receive its mark are doomed for eternal judgement (Rev.14:9-11).

But now is the day of salvation where the true God calls to those following the Grail message and other forms of New Age spirituality to believe the Gospel taught by the Bible and renounce the philosophies of the Antichrist. The only escape is now.

Look upwards! As soon as the inexorable harbingers of His coming have appeared, clearing the way for Him of the obstacles that human conceit heaps upon it, the bandage will fall from the eyes of many who are granted the grace to recognize Him thus! Then, forced by the power of the Light, they will have to bear witness openly. Watch for that hour, it will be nearer than all men think.

Granted, the harbingers of the coming Antichrist have appeared and have been clearing the way for him.

Aleister Crowley predicted in his “sacred” Book of the Law that the 1980s will cower before a great warlord who would be an incarnation of the Egyptian god Ra-Hoor-Khuit. It never happened.

New Age leader, Benjamin Crème predicted that “Lord Maitreya,” the so-called “Christ” of the New Age, would manifest to the entire world in 1987. He never showed up and Crème died in 2016.

David Spangler also predicted the emergence of a savior, an avatar, father-figure which will be for the race what the ancient-priest kings were in ancient history.

Many years ago, he organized series of people to meditate and send out “spiritual transmissions” to bring forth the new age.

The Bible speaks of “the spirit of the anti christ” and “the mystery of iniquity” which have already been in operation. The spirit possesses certain people – at varying degrees – in each generation to imitate, replace or oppose the Jesus Christ of the Bible.