Through my teen years and into college, I loved going to weddings. Not only did I revel in the romance and celebration of the day, but I also eagerly anticipated my own special day with my future spouse. What aspects did I like? What would I implement in my own ceremony? Etc. Weddings were enjoyable and rewarding. Funerals were not, and I detested going to them.
I’ve been to numerous funerals. The first two I remember were for my great-grandma and then for my infant cousin (the casket being only a few feet long). I also attended the funeral of a precious couple that was killed in a car crash. And grandparents, friends, and people I admired.
The weeping and uncomfortable hushed tones made me want to escape to the sunshine and scream. Surely this isn’t part of the plan, is it? How could any of this pain and loss be used for good? As a child, I didn’t see it. Death was always dark.
Gradually, my perspective changed. Death became less scary and more promising. Through redemption in Christ, I was freed from the curse of death and given a promise of heaven forever with my Savior. I started holding onto those things that are more unseen than seen (2 Cor. 4:18). I went to more funerals. And although I’d never proclaim them enjoyable, I learned to appreciate them in ways that I didn’t with weddings. Funerals realigned perspective and drew me closer to God.
Then the monumental one came. Five years ago, I had to say “see you later” to my precious dad. Despite the raw pain of separation and the agony of feeling all is NOT right with the world (…and may never feel so again), I knew I’d see Dad once I departed too. Moreover, God granted me the grace to do something I’d have never thought humanly possible before. I lifted in my hands in worship at my Dad’s funeral. I saw all the lives He touched and continued to, even in his death. I knew that his suffering wasn’t in vain. I knew that his death–and our hope in spite of loss–was a testimony to those who hadn’t crossed from death to life yet.
I saw the curse of our sinful broken world and how it destroyed my dad’s body. Nothing made sense. My dad was healthy. He exercised. He drank tons of water and took supplements and ate better than anyone I knew. He slept, he rested, he worked hard, he wasn’t addicted to anything. It didn’t add up. But death often doesn’t add up and it doesn’t have to. One promising, hopeful, life-giving word can overcome it all: grace.
We know in our spirits we were designed for life. We were created for eternity. Death remains collateral damage from the fall of man when sin forever separated us from our Creator. But because of Christ, it can’t submit the final verdict over you. You can be free from the fear of facing death. You just have to reach out and accept the gift He offers, trading death for life.
And the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
And which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,