Yesterday I attended a memorial service to celebrate the life of a young man from our church. He was only twenty-eight years old when he passed away. I didn’t know him well, but his parents and brother are in our small group, so we are very close with his family. Watching his mom cry over the casket as she said goodbye for the last time was one of the most heartbreaking experiences.
And this is not the only person I know going through this. As you know if you’ve been following me for awhile, my father-in-law passed away last New Year’s. His birthday was a few days ago, so it brought up some intense memories for my mother-in-law. And it seems like over the last couple weeks, I’ve seen a wave of death via social media. One friend’s husband of fifty-nine years is going into hospice and they don’t expect him to live more than a few days. Another friend lost an elderly neighbor she was close to. Someone’s mother who recently had some debilitating health issues has stopped eating and has given up trying to fight. Someone was killed in a car accident. Fathers, brothers, sisters, moms, friends–I’ve seen more reports of losing a loved one in the last few weeks than I remember ever seeing all at once before. It is tragic and heartbreaking to live in a world where death is a part of life.
One of the things my pastor pointed out at yesterday’s service, was that God is the author of life, not just this life, but the life to come. If we trust in Him, though we grieve for the ones we lost, we have hope that this is not the end. Hope, not in the sense of wishing it might be so, but biblical hope, which means an eager expectation. We’re not wishful thinking to expect to see our loved ones again, we’re anticipating it with the assurance that if they have trusted Christ, it will happen.
Even so, we grieve when we lose someone here on earth. It is good and appropriate to do so. It hurts to lose someone, even if we know this is not the end. It is painful to experience this kind of loss. So, grieve. Feel. Experience. But remember, God is the author of life. Not just the life to come, but this life. Jesus came that we might have life, and that we might have it more abundantly. Death is not the end, but neither is it the pinnacle of achievement. There is much to do with the life we have been given. Embrace it. Celebrate it. Share it with those around you. Live it.