I can't tell you how much I wish I didn't have a reason to write this...
But death is one of the cruelest reminders that this world is broken beyond comprehension. And whenever we seem to forget it, it has this ugly way of interrupting our lives with its devastation, refusing to be ignored.
I do not wish to assert any kind of expertise on this topic. Many others have certainly experienced the up-close-and-personal reality of death in a way that I have not.
However, death is a reality, for those who have gone through the heartbreaking loss of a loved one and for us all. No one is exempt. So I offer this, not to belittle the pain of those going through the deep suffering associated with death, but as a fellow sufferer who is looking for hope in the midst of the saddest thing we face in this life.
Here are some reflections upon the untimely death of a friend and classmate:
Earlier this week, I woke up to some sad news. A friend of mine had died. And death always has this horrible way of taking me by surprise. I was shocked. And speechless. I didn't want to believe it. I couldn't believe it. But I had to face the facts: A man's life had ended. And there was absolutely nothing that anyone could do about it. This was final. Unable to be undone.
But he was young, intelligent, talented, loved by many... It seemed like his whole life was ahead of him. And now his happily ever after would never come to be. And it felt wrong. Completely wrong.
And what's worse is that these same tragedies happen all the time - to our friends, to our families, to us. The heartbreak is inescapable. It's everywhere.
Death doesn't care how old you are, how much money you make, or how many people adore you. No matter how long and how much you love another person, there's no stopping the cruel hand of death. Death kills happy endings.
Yet, there's something in all of us that knows that death is wrong, that it shouldn't be this way, that death shouldn't rob us of life and the lives of those we love. Especially when it's someone young. It seems unjust. We are desperate for these wrongs to be made right.
And they will be. There is hope. But we have to understand where to find it.
You see, the only way to really understand death is to go back to its origin. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. And He created man. At first, man had a perfect relationship with God in a perfect setting. There was no death, no pain, no suffering. But then man sinned. And when sin entered the word, death came along with it. "Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned" (Romans 5:12).
So ever since Adam and Eve, sin and death have been a reality for us all.
Life then, can feel like one tragedy after another - like there's no happy ending in sight. And we are powerless to protect ourselves or our loved ones from the harsh realities that await us with the mere passage of time. We can't turn back the clock. We can't heal every pain and suffering. We can't beat every disease, sickness, or cancer. We can't bring the people we love back to life again. Death is a fierce enemy who seems stronger than us in every way.
But there is one Man who proved to be stronger than death - who proved that He, not death, is the King.
Jesus, God Himself, came to earth in the form of man to live the perfect, sinless life that we could not live. And He died in our place to pay the just penalty for our sins. He took on our sins, our pain, our suffering, our death, our personal hell...during His time on the cross. And He did it all out of His love for us. He loved us so much that it killed Him.
But death could not defeat Him. His perfect life was indestructible. He came back to life, as proof that God the Father accepted His sacrifice as payment for our sins. And when He resurrected, He proved that death would not reign supreme. He took on death, and He won.
Though we do not see Him now, He gave us reassurance that He has gone to prepare a place for us, which means He will surely return to bring us to be with Him: “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. (John 14:1-3).
And when He does come back, He will win the final victory. He will trample all His enemies. "For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death"(1 Corinthians 15:25-26). Death will be defeated forever! So for those who trust in Him for life - He lets us share in His victory. Though we all die because of sin, Jesus offers eternal life. "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).
Sadly, if we do not accept Jesus' payment for our sins, we volunteer to pay for them ourselves. And since God is holy and just, the only acceptable payment for sin is death - not just physical death, but spiritual death - an eternal separation from God. Without Jesus, this is the perpetual tragedy that awaits us. Without Him, we have no hope. Death has killed and will kill every single happy ending, except the one that Jesus has resurrected - His own. And He wants us to be part of His eternal happy ending. All we have to do is believe:
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God" (John 3:16-18).
If we believe, Jesus gives us the opportunity to be a part of His happily ever after - the one that all others point to, the one that death could not kill. We just have to wait. Our hope is in Heaven.
So for now, death may steal away our happy endings. I'm still grieving for friends who have seemed to leave this world too soon. I'm still brokenhearted for those around me who have lost those so dear to them. And all this pain just continues to reinforce the fact that we are made for a happy ending that this life cannot deliver. But Jesus can. With Jesus, death isn't the end. He can resurrect. He makes all broken things new. He's working on it even now. And in Heaven, all things will be restored. That's why His glorious story has the best ending:
"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.' And he who was seated on the throne said, 'Behold, I am making all things new' " (Revelation 21:1-5).
Won't you embrace this hope of a happy ending that Jesus longs to give you?
In the midst of loss, grief, and pain...Loving Him is Red.
What other Scriptures have comforted you when dealing with the harsh realities of death?
How do you find hope when death kills a happy ending?