Reconciling with Death

Many of you know the pain of losing a child. I hope you find Christ’s comfort in Pastor Bo Giertz’s devotional writing for the Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity (taken from  To Live with Christ: Daily Devotions by Bo Giertz):

I say to you, arise. Luke 7:14

Death is our enemy and keeps us in bondage. That’s the realistic, Christian view of death. Death is not natural or something we can befriend. Deep in our nature there’s a very real feeling that death for us is something frightening, something that shouldn’t be allowed to happen. We weren’t meant to die. Death is a sign that a catastrophe has happened, that life has become something it never should have become. It’s both sound and correct to be afraid of death and experience it as an adversary, the destroyer, the foe.

The funeral procession that is coming through the city gates in Nain shows us how agonized we are by death, our foe. The sorrow here is as desperate as it can be. There’s a young man dead. Behind the bier is a widow who’s lost everything, even her livelihood and security in the community. Since the funeral must take place the same day, she’s had only a few hours before they shovel the dirt into the grave to ponder the most precious thing she had.

Then Jesus comes. What He does is what He always does when performing a miracle – preaches and gives us a lecture, a promise to all of us. He shows us that our enemy, death, has met his match. He shows us that there’s a possibility, just one possibility, to escape the power of death. He says the same thing in deeds that He later says in words: He is the resurrection and the life, and that he who believes in Him will never see death. Exactly what He said here in Nain – “I say to you, arise” – He has the power to say to all of us at our graves. And He will.

Being a friend of death can mean resigning and surrendering, trying to accept the inevitable – we all have to die. Then we’ve renounced something that’s the hallmark of mankind. You have to try to convince yourself that you’re a fragment of matter that, in accordance with the laws of nature, will disintegrate and fall into pieces again. God, however, has put eternity into man’s mind (Ecclesiastes 3:11), and therefore it’s not so easy to wipe out the feeling that death is the destroyer. That’s not the point either. We can’t come to grips with death on our own. It becomes more and more important to become a friend of Jesus than a friend of death.

(Prayer) Without You, my Lord Jesus, death is just tremendous darkness and a huge mystery. No one can say what I’ll meet on the other side. Some people say it’s all over, but no one knows for sure, and no one can say when darkness overcomes me. I can try not to think about it, but it overwhelms me again. I see people who are younger than I go there. When is it my turn? You know when, Lord. Therefore I leave it all to You and only pray that You are also with me then. For the sake of Your faithfulness.