This isn’t a post about singleness; it’s a post about something else I’ve been processing lately. I promise I’ll be back next time with more snarky singleness speculation.
My friend Cindy died 16 or 17 years ago.
My sister Karissa died almost 12 years ago.
A few weeks ago, I found out that I knew someone who had died in the Louisiana flooding.
Last Wednesday, my friend Susannah gave birth to a baby who died before she could even hold him.
Last weekend, my 20-something friend Brighton lost her husband of 5 weeks to a drunk driver.
I’ve cried a fair bit this week because of death. I miss my sister Karissa; I miss my friend Cindy every year around my birthday when I don’t see her perfect handwriting on a card addressed to me; my heart cries for Susannah and her husband and their families as they have to go home to a nursery and baby clothes and dreams that have died with their child/grandchild/nephew; Brighton’s new widowhood was what finally drove me to shed tears all over my roommate’s lap the other night.
Oh God, I miss my sister so much. After almost 12 years, the missing comes and goes in less and less severe waves. I even forgot her birthday on her birthday this year; I thought of it the day before and two days after, but not on the actual day. I no longer drown in grief when I think of her death in the ocean; it’s more like I wade in and out of it – or maybe it ebbs and flows around me as I sit on the sand. Still, there is a part of me that’s been missing for 12 years and will be for the rest of my life.
I’ve been reading and studying lately about how God is all-powerful and all-good. There’s a line in “Batman vs. Superman” in which Lex Luthor posits that a person can’t be both – and he’s right. No person can be either or both. But God, because He is all-powerful, has all the power to be all-good.
So how does that connect to death? Wouldn’t it seem when loved ones die that God was not powerful enough to stop it or good enough to want to? How many people, after the death of a loved one, have walked away from God because, “How could a good God do this?”
Actually, because God is good, He feels much the same way we do about death. And because He is all-powerful, He did something about it. He sent Jesus.
Jesus was the Son of God. He could have stayed in heaven, untouched by death and human problems for eternity – and He would have been within His rights to do so. But because He hated sin and death, He came to earth as a human.
In His life on this earth, He experienced what it was like to…
- lose family members to death; scholars assume his earthly father Joseph died before Jesus was 30.
- lose close friends; John 11 tells the story of when Jesus’ good friend Lazarus died.
- run into death on the street; the Bible tells the story of Jesus raising a random boy from the dead at the boy’s funeral.
Eventually, when He was about my age, Jesus experienced His own death, in the most horrific, brutal, inhumane form it could ever come. Beaten into a mangled version of a man, nailed to wood, abandoned by God, He died on a cross.
If anyone must have hated death, it must have been Jesus.
But – and here’s the best part of the story – Jesus didn’t just hate death; He didn’t just experience it; He DEFEATED it. Three days after Jesus’ last breath left His pulp-like body, He rose from the dead. In the split second when he sat up in His tomb and left his burial clothes behind, He showed death that nothing could defeat God’s plan. Not even death could stand in the way of His love for us. In dying and rising from the dead, he killed death.
Oh, not immediately. Lazarus died again, and that little boy had a second funeral (when he was an old man with lots of grandchildren, I hope). But Jesus never died again. Forty days after His resurrection, He went to heaven where He still lives and waits for us.
Now, for me, death doesn’t have to be scary; for us believers, it doesn’t have to be permanent; it certainly doesn’t have to be bad. After we die, we get to go to heaven to be with Jesus.
The Bible says that heaven is so good that we will never cry or be sorrowful or experience pain or go through suffering ever again. It says He will wipe away every tear from our eyes. Can you imagine? Can you imagine a state of being so happy/joyful that the extreme suffering of our earthly lives doesn’t even phase us anymore? I can’t. I can tell you right now that there are not enough good things on this earth that could happen that could make me forget about Cindy, Karissa, my siblings who were miscarried, my cousin’s baby who died at a few months old, my grandparents who have passed, and my friends who have died too young.
But in heaven, the sadness of those deaths – and, yes, the sadness of lost dreams and disappointments and missed opportunities – won’t even be a blip in my consciousness because it will be full of so much good stuff. Correction: it will be full of Jesus.
God proves in Jesus that He is all-powerful AND all-good. Not only that, but He is for MY good. I started out this week and this post, and my heart was heavy with the grief of lost loved ones. Now I’m ending this week and this post, and my heart is rejoicing in the goodness of God and looking forward even more to knowing Jesus in heaven.
Jesus’ death proves that He knows us and our sorrows. And His resurrection proves that He holds our future. If that’s not all-powerful and all-good, I don’t know what is.