Shock knocks the breath from me; my swirling thoughts escape. Everything’s a blur. I’m stunned; numb. When I return to my senses, the earlier musings aren’t relevant. The soup I’d planned doesn’t matter. I don’t need to cook at all. Who cares what clothes I put on, or if I use makeup.
My niece Lindsay has died suddenly. Nothing else counts. I worry about my sister, her husband and my nephew. The two siblings were close– best friends. My only sibling lost her only daughter. I need to be with her. When should I go? What should I say?
It’s the loss parents dread most. What mom and dad hasn’t thought, I can’t imagine, when someone’s child passes away?
The cause is unknown. I beg for meaning; for answers. I’m desperate to bring comfort, but how?
Images of paradise rush to mind. My niece left this world and instantly stepped into the presence of Jesus. She’s probably touched Him by now! She’s more alive than ever; free from all sorrow and pain. She’s graduated to a luminous perfect world, beyond our wildest imaginations.
When I unsuccessfully try to make sense of what’s happened, a return to what’s certain helps. A person who has accepted Jesus will never see death. Believers promptly transfer from earth to heaven, where Love Himself awaits.
We grieve, but not for our loved one who has passed. Our grief is for ones who loved her most, who are still detained in this imperfect, impermanent world. We’re sad because she’s not here, but we realize it’s our loss, not hers. She wouldn’t want to come back. She’s seen Whom her soul longed for. We can’t regret her unaccomplished goals, a future job, or new house. Why be sad she hasn’t traveled the world? Unseen glories, now visible to her, trump all earthly bucket lists.
I rustle through scripture for help.
So we have no reason to despair. Despite the fact that our outer humanity is falling apart and decaying, our inner humanity is breathing in new life every day. You see, the short lived pains of this life are creating for us an eternal glory that does not compare to anything we know here. So we do not set our sights on things we can see with our eyes. All of that is fleeting; it will eventually fade away. Instead we focus on the things we cannot see, which live on and on.
We know that if our earthly house–a mere tent that can easily be taken down– can be destroyed, we will then live in an eternal home in the heavens, a building crafted by divine—not human—hands. Currently, in this tent of a house, we continue to groan and ache with a deep desire to be sheltered in our permanent home because we will be truly clothed and comfortable, protected by a covering for our current nakedness. The fact is that in this tent we anxiously moan, fearing the naked truth of our reality. What we crave above all is to be clothed so that what is temporary and mortal can be wrapped completely in life. The One who has worked and tailored us for this is God Himself who has gifted His Spirit to us as a pledge toward our permanent home.
In light of this, we live with a daring passion and know that our time spent in this body is also time we are not present with the Lord. The path we walk is charted by faith, not what we see with our eyes. There is no doubt that we live with a daring passion, but in the end we prefer to be gone from this body so we can be at home with the Lord. Ultimately it does not matter whether we are here or gone; our purpose stays fixed, and that is to please Him.2 Corinthians 4:16-5:9, The Voice
Lord, please show me how to navigate life in two worlds. The nature of earth-living is to be subject to its natural laws. We’re not safe here. Its realities include terrible physical and emotional pain. There are accidents, disease, depression, abuse, death, and much more.
Simultaneously, we’re citizens of another world. We know it as the Kingdom of God. Jesus reigns in this kingdom which is characterized by righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Romans 14:17
We’re aliens in this world where death is ultimate. At moments we feel on top of a mountain; the next we are defeated. We waffle between our two homes. In God’s kingdom, we are victors. We revel in our miraculous relationship with God, gifted to us by Jesus’ death and resurrection. We’re treated with moments when heaven seems to touch down and meet earth. Deep authentic conversations with closest friends, a walk outside in spring with pink, yellow and white blooms bursting free, the thrill of a symphony orchestra, favorite band or worship service. In between these, pain of one kind or another isn’t far away.
How can I live in this world of uncertainty and death where I have little control? How can I be courageous to open my hands and trust my life and that of loved ones to your sovereignty, Lord? Life is just a vapor; I need to remember this. James 4:14. The next breath could be my last. Help me to live in gratitude for each moment and glorify You in it.
The Christian life is a process of being conformed to Jesus’ image through sanctification. We embody Jesus’ death through our own suffering and participate in His risen life.
What a tension we carry. I want to carry it well.
We were created for paradise. Genesis depicts the colorful, perfect garden of Eden. Mankind made choices counter to God’s plan. We were designed for a perfect world, so we stumble in an imperfect one.
God is sovereign, but He doesn’t cause bad things to happen to us. Yes, He is all powerful, but Satan is the god of this world. Even though Satan was defeated at the cross, he still brings havoc and death to our world. One day Satan’s schemes will be halted for good.
God leads us to new life in His kingdom where we find comfort and hope.
Without the horrors of this world, we couldn’t know love. Because we love others passionately, we experience paralyzing loss. Love and loss ebb and flow. If we love, we suffer.
But no matter what comes, we will always taste victory through Him who loved us. For I have every confidence that nothing–not death, life, heavenly messengers, dark spirits, the present, the future, spiritual powers, height, depth, nor any created thing—can come between us and the love of God revealed in the Anointed, Jesus our Lord.Romans 8:37-39, The Voice
Look for Him and you will find Him, friends.
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.Romans 10:9