Unfortunate circumstances have a way of summoning sadness while also welcoming the entrance of blessings. Death can be seen as one of these unfortunate circumstances. Suffering loss can leave anyone devastated, confused, questioning God, and sometimes even wondering when the time will come for them to leave this earth. It can cause families to grieve together, laugh together, smile together, and hold each other closer. But although death has a way of bringing people together, it also has a way of making you question if it’s really necessary.
I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the phrase, “blood couldn’t make us any closer.” As close, if not closer than family, is what some people become when you’ve spent most of your life with them. You fuss and fight, fall out to fall back in, laugh, cry, and enjoy life’s highs and lows together. And this is what makes the time you spend with them so meaningful. But it also makes death so unimaginable.
Here recently, our family and church family experienced this unimaginable cycle of life. Someone close to us transitioned to be with the Lord. And though those words bring joy to the believer’s heart, the death itself still hurts. And even though Paul reassured us that, for the believer, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8), death still produces a sting that we’ve been told Jesus has victory over.
When things like this happen, we rain down a multitude of questions expecting God to answer right then. We wonder why good people have to succumb to death, especially unexpectedly. We ungenerously wonder how bad people seem to always evade consequences. We ask, “why me?” We hope to close our eyes at the end of that sorrowful day and wake to an alternate reality. We look for joy in the morning (Psalm 30:5) only to find sadness from the day before.
As each day goes by, we hope that things get easier, and time does its miraculous work. However, the time it takes to get to that easier, more bearable day seems to slowly creep in with hesitation. But when the day finally comes, experiencing this ease prompts appreciation for what time can bring but also conviction for how we expediently yet unintentionally foist this acceptance of time on others.
Do Unto Others
Death has a way of exposing our inequity towards it. We question its validity when it hits home, but we dismiss its agony when its distant. We encourage others to find a way to move on. We stop calling, stop texting, and stop “just checking in,” because we expect others to heal and get back to the normalcy of life. But when death knocks on our door, we don’t expect that dismissive treatment to be conferred to us. Thankfully, this is where the Holy Spirit steps in to give comfort to those who will accept His presence and to those we may forget.
Our Comfort and Hope
The means by which the Holy Spirit is now able to do this came through death. A death that was humiliating, excruciating, but necessary. Christ had to die for the Comforter to come. And now that the Comforter is here, we can cope with death in a different way. A better way. Not to say that death isn’t hard, but the Holy Spirit helps us to look for hope in Him versus putting all our hope in those who are just like us.
Beyond Sin and Shame
When you think about Calvary and all that it does for us, the first thing that comes to mind isn’t always how it helps us deal with death. A lot of times we limit the death and resurrection of Christ to just covering our sin, shame, guilt, and the wrath of God. But what’s so awesome about the Gospel is that when Christ died and was resurrected to ascend to the right hand of the Father, this secured citizenship in heaven for believers. And when you think about heaven, heaven is a place where there are no tears, no sorrow, and no sadness. There’s only joy, peace, praise, and the comfort in knowing that we are with the Lord.
Knowing this also helps to remind us of our humanity and how we can’t escape certain things that are simply brought on by life. If we are not raptured, some of us will have to face death at some point. It’s what happens after that death that should be our sole focus. Thinking about our eternal state should also serve to remind us that we were once those people we often substitute for our loved ones. It is only through the death of Christ that we can now live a morally pleasing life. Christ died so that we could live—live freely, joyfully, holy, and set apart from the world. And His death helps us to not only look for joy in the morning, but it also helps us to find joy in our mourning.
Growing Through Grief
When we’re down because we have suffered loss, experience things that make us feel sad, grieved, and heartbroken, we can think about the Cross. We can think about all that the death of Christ covers for us. It covers our sadness. Christ’s death helps us bear the weight of loss and tragedy.
Although we accept this, it still feels, at times, as if God isn’t answering our prayers or hearing our cries. But even when things don’t turn out the way we think they should, God still answers—in His way and in His time. And His answer is always what’s best for us. One way we know He has answered us is through the Cross. Through the death of His son. A death that was and is still necessary for us all.
A Promise Keeper
It’s important to remember this about God: even in death, He doesn’t always have to explain Himself to us when He always keeps His promises to us. His promise to never leave us in our pain and our trouble. His promise to keep us in perfect peace. And His promise to comfort us in times of deep sorrow.
The physical death we experience here may not be unchallenging, but the death of Christ is always overcoming.