I woke up the first day of April to find a light dusting of snow covering the ground. This was not an expected occurrence in southeastern Pennsylvania. Birds chirping. Forsythia starting to bloom. Garden plowed and ready for planting. Not the time for winter’s lingering coldness. I couldn’t escape the overwhelming sense of incongruity. The night before I had watched as the undertaker took the body of my dear friend from the warmth of her home and family to be prepared for burial. She who was so filled with life and faith, now still and silent, beyond our reach. Not the time for death’s coldness….
We were created for life. I think that’s why we humans have such a fierce reaction to death. Even though Jesus knew he was going to be raising Lazarus from the grave, when he saw the weight of grief carried by Mary he was “deeply moved in spirit and troubled” (John 11:33). Death was an aberration, a deviation, an abnormality, the result of a fallen world. Its presence disturbed the Creator and Giver of life. No wonder it disturbs us as well, this uninvited guest, this intruder.
So we grieve. We weep. We mourn.
Yet for believers, that’s not where it ends. Paul tells us not to grieve as those who have no hope. Although we can’t comprehend, on this side, what it is, we know enough from scripture not to view death as final, but as the next phase to something that never dies. Life does not conclude with a period, but an ellipsis, those three little dots (…) that tell the reader something is missing from the sentence. Those dots indicate there is more the writer is thinking than what is revealed. And so it is with eternity.
I love to think of my friend, Barb, in heaven now. She’s rejoicing in God’s pleasure over her story. In perfect health and happiness, she’s praising Him, singing All Things Are Possible at the top of her lungs. For her, all the incongruities of life have vanished….