Dealing with Death
After only a month in Scotland, word came for my wife that her grandmother had died. Once I found out, I knew it meant that she would be returning home for the service. It would be a painful process for her.
Death is, to our senses, utterly irreversible. People that we love dearly pass across an invisible, indiscriminate divide and we have no way of reaching across and speaking to them again. For as long as we live, they’re gone. I am sure that many reading this have experienced the bitterness of loved ones lost. It is like being hungry and having nothing to eat. No matter how much you want to see them and spend time with them, you can’t.
I think for me, the constant question about sickness and death is “why now?” I had a friend who died last year. He was sick and everyone knew that soon, he would pass. It was hard to watch: both before and after he died. As I was leaving my friend’s funeral service, I was speaking with one of his other friends. She kept saying, “I just thought that God was going to heal him.” And that was it. She got into her car and drove home. I didn’t know what to say. For a long time I thought about the emotion that was clearly present in her words.
We see in all the Bible that God has the power to heal. This truth, that God can heal, does not always square with our pain at the loss of others. I think this is because most of us fail to give pride of place to the truth that not only does God heal, he saves.
Jesus goes to the tomb of Lazarus, days after he has died and raises him back to life saying, “I am the resurrection and the life.” I can imagine that Lazarus’ family (and probably Lazarus himself) were beside themselves with joy when he emerged from the tomb. But I don’t want to forget that some time later, Lazrarus died again. This isn’t because God was not capable to keep Lazarus alive. God can do what he wants. The point though, isn’t the physical healing, it is the eternal life that we get from salvation.
The older I get, the more times I will see people that I care about pass away. I want to live hopefully. Not that God will heal them on earth – even though he can – but that heaven is a real place and that, for believers, it sits across the invisible divide.
My wife spoke at her grandmothers funeral and concluded with these words:
She has left us a physical, an emotional, and spiritual legacy. I grieve, but for myself. I love and miss her and will continue to miss her. But I rejoice that she is now with Jesus. She is singing again. She is whole and she is healthy. And we will meet again.