Sunday, June 12, 2016

Comfort in the Face of Death

I've heard many things of death. It robs. It creeps up; strikes out of no where. Synonyms range from termination to a crossing over. I've seen it defined as a permanent end or a new beginning. None of those offer peace or understanding. Those statements leave us in a state of dread for our death-day. We all know it's coming! Everyone reading this will be dead 100 years from now. And I do know all of us fear it. We don't know the day or the hour or the how we will die, but we know we will die. Yet, death surprises us and that is what surprises me.

There's been many events as of late that have me thinking of life and death. It began with the death of a high school classmate and has continued with more ISIS murders and now I'm reading news on the passing of Christina Grimmie. My Facebook newsfeed is overflowing with the heartache death brings.

I'm finding myself asking, how can I give comfort in the face of death? What hope can I offer?

Truthfully there's not a lot I can do to relieve the heartache. BUT I can offer truth's to give comfort, irradicate fear and offer hope. I've gone to these truths many times in my life... When I wanted to understand the passing of many high school friends barely living past their graduation, one never even making it. Or when I nearly died myself. Or when I think of all the death my own mother has experienced from the passing of her mother at a very young age, younger than I am now, to the death of her baby brother in his early twenties. Countless times I've wondered, why?

Truthfully, I cannot answer why. So what comfort is there? Can there be peace? Understanding? Hope?

I believe so.

I believe our hope is found in what God says about death in His Word.

First things first. We are all sinners. If you want to know how grotesquely we have sinned against God read the 10 commandments and realize that by breaking even one of the ten we deserve to die (Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death..."). Sin keeps us from God's presence. We cannot enter His holiness with our impurity and lawlessness. We need a Savior. We need someone to die in our place. Jesus Christ did that. He endured the wrath of God for our sin when He died on the cross an defeated death when He rose on the 3rd day! Hallelujah for the hope we have in Christ and what He accomplished on the cross! That is the gospel and is the only hope we have in the face of impending death, because HE is the only source of life.

Despite knowing that if we believe in Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection we will be saved (Romans 10:9) we still find little peace and understanding and comfort in a life seemingly lived too short. When I reflect on my three friends who did not live past the age of 18 I find myself in heartache for the live they never experienced... and I can get myself all sorts of worked up when I think of a father who left behind a wife and a two year old or a young mother who left behind her grieving husband and children or a new graduate who will never fulfill his dreams. I took life for granted and nearly lost it when my first baby was a mere 10 days old. Ever since then I have scoured the Bible for the truth behind death and I cannot help but think... who will be the first to die in my siblings? from my sorority pledge class? from my own little family of 4? If I'm not careful I live in fear and dread and worry for the pain I know I'll feel.

Like I said, I believe, despite the inevitable pain and heartache, there can be hope and peace because of what I know about God through His Word. Those that believe in the gospel will be saved. But I also know that I worship a God who holds the stars in His hand and knows them all by name (Psalm 147:4-5). He knows the hairs on our head (Luke 12:7). He commands lightening to strike where it strikes (Job 36:32-33). Knowing these truths and many, many, countless others, I am put in a state of awe. I worship an Almighty, powerful God who is worthy of my utmost trust. If He has the stars in His hand and knows them all by name, if he knows the number of hairs on each of our heads, if He covers His hands with lightning and commands it to strike the mark, if He defeated death, I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt I can trust Him with my life, my breath, and that of my loved ones. 

Understanding His might and power gives me rest. Knowing my very breath is credited to Him, gives me peace and comfort. Trusting HIM gives me peace. Especially when I read passages like,

"In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind." (Job 12:10)

"... [mans] days are determined, and the number of his months is with you, and you have appointed his limits that he cannot pass..." (Job 14:5)

He holds the stars in His hand and He also holds my breath. He has determined my days, set a limit that I cannot pass. Knowledge of HIM gives peace and understanding in the midst of death even when we cannot answer why. 

I hope that comforts you like it does me. And I earnestly desire the gospel comes alive for you when you realize that by Jesus' defeating death - you will live! 

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