Although there is always a semblance of sadness with any death, there are times where we can rejoice at the end of suffering or at the reunion occurring in heaven with faithful followers of Christ and their Heavenly Savior. The death of my grandpa last summer was one of these joyful deaths. Tears were shed and grieving took place, but anyone who knew my grandpa knew that he loved Jesus and to know he is walking with the Lord, literally, removes any devastation that may have crept into the heart. All sadness was merely for our own loss, not for his. For in his death, my grandpa suffered no loss, but gained everything.
But this morning, I sit with my Bible in front of me, teary eyed. I am battling to understand the purpose of a life that goes unlived for Christ, and death that happens before redemption can take place. In fleeting moments of complete sadness I am tempted to entertain questions of “How can a God of love send someone to eternal suffering and torment?” and “why would God let this happen before he had a chance to become a Christian?”. While I feel profound sadness at the loss of a wonderful grandpa (although he wasn’t even my own!), the loss of James’s grandpa Mike this week has incited a unique wrestling in my heart with hard questions. With 8 children (plus spouses) and countless grand and great-grandchildren, many of whom believe in and love Jesus, Mike’s death has left a number of his family members wrestling with the same questions and monumental sadness that I’m sure far outweighs my own.
|Mike and Bailey|
|Maybe a month ago|
When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Corinthians 15:54-57 ESV)
Only the Lord knows the heart, so God knows what went through Mike’s heart even the hours before he died. God may very well have drawn Mike to himself in his last hours, but know that no man enters the presence of God without being washed with the blood of Jesus Christ himself, and that is a conscious choice every man must make.
As James and I (and the rest of his family) walk through this season of sadness, I pray that in drawing near to our Savior for comfort and hope, our foundation will grow ever stronger and our hearts ever more in love with the One who has given us victory over the power of sin and death.