Question from a Reader:
Can you share your thoughts on "signs" from loved ones who loved Jesus and have died? Are they coincidences? Or the devil pretending to be a loved one? Or could it be the Lord, relaying signs and messages from our loved ones?
Answer from Shauna Hernandez:
Thanks for your question. Sometimes I think God does indeed give us gifts that remind us of the loved ones we've lost. My mom passed away a few months ago, and God has definitely been kind in different areas. For example, my mom had made up pie dough earlier this year and froze it. We used it this past year at Thanksgiving and it felt like she was still able to contribute to our meal! I don't believe this was any type of sign, but rather, it was God being sweet and, in a way, allowing my mom’s legacy to still be a part of our day.
While there really isn't any Biblical evidence for those in Heaven sending us signs, or even for God giving us gifts to remind us of loved ones, He does say to be thankful for all things. I can't tell you for sure that the break in the clouds and sunshine you mentioned is from God, but I believe it could be. He is the creator of the skies and the heavens (Nehemiah 9:6, Isaiah 45:12), and the giver of all good things (James 1:17). It could be the Lord giving you a gift as you think about your loved one who is now with Him. Certainly you can seek to be drawn closer to Jesus as you thank Him for the beauty of His creation and for His gift of salvation.
I love that God is so good and gives us reminders of His presence and care, both in our day-to-day lives and in His Word: “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you” (Isaiah 46:4).
Widow and author Clarissa Moll writes:
Pennies on the sidewalk. Certain numbers. Dreams. Cardinals that land in the trees outside our homes. Friends, these are not messages our deceased loved ones are sending us.
While Christians believe that our loved ones are present with Jesus after they die, we are not ever told that communication with them will be possible. In fact, Scriptures such as Luke 16 seem to indicate that, even if it were possible to communicate with the dead, the living actually would glean very little from the experience.
The reality is, there is no secret language that transcends death. Death isn’t like summer camp; your person can’t send postcards back home. Sometimes, looking for a sign or message from your person can even distract you from solely relying on God for comfort instead.
I know what it means to long to hear your person’s voice or to receive reassurance of your person’s love for you. I’m a widow. I get it. But I’m also aware that many popular beliefs like these hold us back from moving forward into new life after loss. They’re not grounded in Scripture but rooted in our very human, brokenhearted longings. I’m reminded of Rob every time I see a mountain. However, I know the mountains are not a sign from Rob of his nearness but a picture from God of HIS nearness and steadfast love that endure through all my life (Isaiah 54:10).
The “gone-ness” of our loved ones is something we may always wrestle with, and that’s okay. We can live joyful, deeply satisfying lives even if we stop looking for signs from our loved ones in the universe. We can release our loved ones to God’s care and say goodbye — even when it’s incredibly hard. We can ask God to reveal to us HIS presence in our sorrow — the one consolation that is guaranteed to meet our heart’s greatest desires.
On a related topic, Randy Alcorn has addressed the question of whether or not we should seek contact with our loved ones who have died. He writes,
God invites us to come to Him with what's on our minds and hearts. Obviously your loved one is on your mind and heart. If your child or wife or husband or parents or best friend are with Jesus, God understands your desire to feel connected to them, and to want them to know of your love for them, and that you miss them and look forward to seeing them again.
I have every reason to believe God would honor the request to pass on our warm greetings to loved ones. But again, that's up to Him. Bottom line, as long as you're not praying TO your loved one or FOR your loved one (who needs no prayer now), but to God ABOUT your loved one, and your feelings, and your desire for them to know something, I think there's nothing in that which violates Scripture. Just be careful it doesn't shift into anything that treats them as intermediaries or leads to obsession or seeking contact with them, which is expressly forbidden.
God is gracious and understanding of our thoughts and feelings and love for the precious people He has put in our lives.