Live With the Understanding That Death is Not the “Last Act”
Funerals tend to be sobering events. After all, one’s mortality is serious business. Fear of death and what physical death means can bring forth feelings of anxiety and fear and even Christians are not immune to these challenges. But we have the ability to re-align our perspectives to God’s way of seeing things and deal with these crises with faith and in much greater peace.
A good biblical illustration comes from the Gospel of Mark in Chapter 5 which deals with death from the Healer’s perspective, Jesus perspective, not a human perspective. “They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly.And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was.”
From Jesus’ perspective, this girl was not dead, just asleep. Sleep is not a permanent condition, and to God, neither is death. It is a threshold – – a necessary step in passing from this world to the next. It’s not an end but a beginning. That’s what the Bible means in 1st Corinthians 15 in saying “I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.”
When we see death, we tend to see disaster. When Jesus sees the death of a believer, He sees deliverance. However, instead of waking this little girl up in heaven, Jesus chose on this occasion to wake her up again back in the world. He did that so we might learn to see with eyes of faith.
If, from God’s perspective, death is deliverance and not disaster, why did He raise this child from the dead? Certainly not for her sake, for she was better off in heaven. Right? He raised her for our sake. God knows that you and I must often walk in darkness and that faith doesn’t always come easily or naturally. In the face of death, God knows that we need the assurance that death is not the last act.
We learn quickly that life is full of good times and bad. Verses in Ecclesiastes reminds us that there is “a time to be born and a time to die. There is a time to weep, and a time to laugh.” It is part of the natural ebb and flow of life. Sometimes that knowledge that others have grieved before us helps us put our own loved one’s death in perspective.
In our grief when we receive comfort from God, it gives us the strength and frankly the responsibility to spread that comfort to others who suffer. This is never truer than when we lose a “family” member. We can’t stay strong all the time, but others in the family are to be ready to provide enough strength to sustain the rest of the family. As Christians, our “family” is much enlarged beyond biological connections to now include the family of Christ. Our grief-bearing becomes part of a new obligation to our larger family.
A perfect exhortation to remember our broader responsibilities during times of loss and grief is God’s word in 2nd Corinthians which encourages us so that we might encourage one another in times like this. “Blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
Death is not painless for the Christian, whether facing death personally or ministering to the grief of others, but it can be overshadowed through the hope of the cross and the resurrection. The One who conquered death has assured us that He is with us always. He is present with us as we navigate life, experience dying and is there to embrace us at our homecoming, even giving us advance certainty that our “room” is ready! (see John 14). Think About It.