Hope in Grief in the Midst of COVID-19 – Sermon by Steven Loots

Our Current Reality

  • Daily the pandemic spreads. Now about two million people infected, soon many millions.
  • For those who watched and speculated, who theorised and expressed doubt, for those who falsely prophesied that it would all be over soon; it has started to become a reality.
  • Daily the death total grows. In the US over a thousand deaths per day – and climbing.
  • This week someone died that I knew.
  • As we come to grips with the reality and severity of what we are facing, many find themselves on an emotional roller coaster. We don’t really know how to deal with death. Especially when it strikes as widely as it is now doing. In the weeks to come we are going to be overwhelmed by the sheer numbers and deeply distressed to find out that we are familiar with the roll call of the departed.
  • In some cases it will be deeply personal. Within our own churches and even in our homes.

Our comfort is not found in denying reality; by closing our ears like a child and fending off the truth.

  • It is not found in false promises, false prophecies or fake stories.
  • It is not found in blaming others or in conspiracy theories.
  • Our hope lies in the truth. We know the Truth and the TRUTH sets us free – also free from fear.

In John 11 we find the story of Lazarus.

  • Lazarus, a friend of Jesus and the brother of Mary and Martha took ill.
  • The sisters called on Jesus to come and heal him.
  • Jesus deliberately took his time, and by the time he got there Lazarus had been dead for 4 days.
  • Jesus knew full well what had happened and what He was about to do.
  • Yet, as Jesus sees the grief of the family and those who came to comfort them, He is deeply moved.
  • JESUS WEPT John 11:35
  • Why? He knew He was about to raise Lazarus. Because Jesus saw what death does to people – not only to the dying, but to those left behind.
    • Jesus saw their loss, their desperation, their anguish, their grief.
    • Death had come to a loved one. It is permanent – Lazarus is forever gone.
    • Death causes separation. It leaves other needy, broken and lonely.
    • It takes away all hope of reconciliation with people and with God.
  • People everywhere recognize the hopelessness of death – that is why they grieve. It is final, permanent.

Then Jesus does the impossible!

  • Jesus commands a dead man to come out of the grave – and he does!
  • Lazarus is alive again!


Next week is Easter. An Easter like no other we have ever celebrated. A time when we will focus on another death and resurrection = that of Christ Himself.

  • Jesus did not just weep and do nothing.
  • Jesus took on Himself the cause of death and then overcame death itself.
  • Jesus made it possible for all – not just Lazarus to be resurrected!


Now we find these words in 1 Thess. 4:13-1413 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.”


  • The Bible does not say that we will not grieve, but that we will not grieve like the world (like the rest of mankind).
  • We view the death of a believer as if they have fallen asleep and will soon wake up again. ILLUSTRATION: Time zone…

We are going to face death in new ways, perhaps millions across the world; but we have hope.

  • We will not fear death for ourselves.
  • We will not grieve over believers as though there is no hope.
  • Resurrection awaits!!
  • However, we need to grieve the loss of unbelievers, recognizing their lost-ness without Christ. They have no hope.
  • Better still – introduce them to the hope that lives in you now.

We need others to see our hope in these days.

  • Our hope is our testimony to people who fear death.
  • Our hope is a bright light, drawing others into its comfort.
    • Ill: Believers in lockdown in India – living out their faith loudly!

Please don’t express false hope in this time.

  • Rather say nothing than say things the Bible does not promise.
  • No, the death of Jesus did not save all humanity.
  • He died for all, but without faith there can be no salvation.

As you deal with the grief of others recognize that there are no words that can dull the pain; but The Bible teaches us that the Holy Spirit is the COMFORTER.

  • God Himself will bind up the wounds when people turn to Him.
  • Point to God in a loving way and pray that the Holy Spirit will bring peace to broken hearts.

Be strong. Study the Word. Speak the truth. Express your hope. Look up. We know where our hope comes from.