Last Sunday morning I was woken up by a phone call. I knew since my mom was calling before 8am that something had to be wrong. I didn’t answer the first time, in part because I wanted to guard myself from any dreaded news. My mind started running – who or what could be wrong? I knew when she called back it was going to be something I didn’t want to hear. I’ve gotten a few calls like that over the last couple of years. I can tell you exactly where I was for each one of them. Those moments don’t leave you. Every call I’ve received, I’ve never believed the news on the other end. Last Sunday my mom called to tell me that a family member died in a car accident.
Death is never an easy thing to grasp. In fact, it’s so unnatural that our minds can hardly comprehend it. There’s always the thought, ‘This can’t be real.’ But one thing we can be certain of: death is real. It’s inevitable. It’s something that we know to be true about every human life – birth and death are part of this world.
There are a few things that come with death that we all experience: loss, grief, and questions. In the face of death we’re forced to ask some of life’s hardest questions: How could this happen? What happens after death? How can we trust God when things like this happen?
We don’t always understand how God is working with us, and how he works out grace in our lives to cope and understand these things. One thing I know for sure is that in the face of grief and death, God draws me to him to remind me of his faithfulness and sovereignty unlike any other time in my life.
Something that particularly struck me this past week in the midst of coping with death is that God is chasing us. God is chasing after our hearts and our lives to fully give them over to him. He gives us grace and mercy throughout all of our lives. If we are truly his, he can’t lose us in death. When we experience the death of someone close to us, we grieve for the loss in our lives, but we are not hopeless. Instead, we are reminded in a deeply powerful way that heaven IS real. It’s what we long for in this life when we are broken and in pain. Heaven is the reality of a restored world. Heaven is reunion with our Creator. Heaven is God’s promise to us that satisfies and fulfills our deepest pain in this life.
I’ve been clinging to the words in this old hymn this week:
Be still, my soul, the Lord is on your side. Bear patiently the cross of grief and pain. Leave to your God to order and provide; in every change, God faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on when we shall be forever with the Lord; When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone, sorrows forgot, love’s joys restored.
I am reminded by the reality of God’s goodness that he is in control, which gives me great comfort in the face of tragedy. It doesn’t remove the pain or grief in my life, but it gives me hope in a difficult time. I cannot wait for the day when death is simply a memory and grief is restored and transformed into perfect joy.
Soon we will be forever with the Lord.