Yesterday, some good friends of mine lost their grandfather. Although we often fear death as mighty and dreadful, it cannot truly kill us. As John Donne reminds us in Holy Sonnet X:
“One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And Death shall be no more ; Death, thou shalt die.”
We pass through this earth afflicted with sin, sorrow, and death. Yet we know that we are simply awaiting grander things, for Revelation 21:4 tells us that one day, “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
My friends’ grandfather was a good Christian man, beloved by the church and particularly the campus ministry. He lived a long life and raised two beautiful daughters and a son who are wholeheartedly devoted to God; they are some of the strongest Christians I know.
As Christians, we are called to follow in the footsteps of our Lord Jesus Christ. In John 11:35, Jesus weeps at the death of his friend Lazarus. When reading this, it is easy to ask: why did Jesus weep? Didn’t he know that he could bring Lazarus back to life? Didn’t he know that Lazarus would rise once more? Jesus Christ shows us that tears are a proper response to death, even when that death brings glory to God, even when that death will not last.
The situation between Lazarus and Jesus is the archetype for how Christians should deal with death in their lives. Even though we know that our friends’ deaths may bring glory to God, even though we know that death is a simple passing from this life into the next, we may still weep for the loss of those whom we love. It is all right to be sad! It is all right to cry!
While we may weep because our loved ones will be sorely missed, we are ought also to rejoice for they have gone to see our Father! There is a reason that Jesus tells us in the sermon on the mount that those who mourn will be comforted. So, in this time of rejoicing, let us proclaim as Paul – “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? …Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
I know that God has blessed a fine man with his final victory and has now brought him home.
Please join me in praying for his family to be comforted and to grow stronger through this loss.