Death terrifies me.
My greatest fear is being left behind, abandoned, forgotten. So death poses an immense threat, threatening to someday take those dearest to me.
Recent news of death crossed my path like an unwelcome tidal wave.
Old friends, family members, and coworkers. Cancer, car accidents, and a plane crash. Life’s light was extinguished, leaving survivors with stolen breath and sucker-punched guts, like from the force of water.
As much as the victory of Christ is a comfort, I often waver.
We’re visiting my cousin Aaron in Camarillo. The cemetery is tucked behind stratified layers of farms––crops of berries and knolls of flowers stretch across every corner.
Trees, rooted in the dead and fed by mortality, give shade to gravestones––some fresh, others worn by time. Tall rock faces stare sternly. Pinwheels provide a cheery pop of color.
33 years in the grave, and buried after only 7 months of life. But the memory comes back as fresh as the bouquet of flowers in my aunt’s arms.
Life reminds her of his all-too-soon absence. A solitary palm tree marks where he’s buried. A pause, and she speaks through tears.
“We used to do hayrides right around here.”
My grandma, mom, and I stand in silence, carrying the weight of heavy grief––trying to shoulder the burden my aunt carries.
There are no words to be said. Only our presence to offer, when the pain of absence screams to be heard louder.
The terror of death can become a living death, if I allow it to paralyze me from living. Instead of lingering in fear and anticipation of unimaginable grief, I take one day at a time, one step at a time.
Timid at first, faltering, but I move into each moment with immense gratitude. The gifts are reflections of ultimate Goodness.
Life is fleeting, yes, but magnificently beautiful––weighed down with gifts like the fruitful bough of a peach tree in spring.
Sorrowful, yes, but never without rays of everlasting joy and hope.
And though not fully experienced here, we get glimpses of the indestructible joy that awaits. I’ve started to look at loved ones with childlike wonder––like, “You’re really here, living in front of me.” I drink in the daily beauty of life, seeing everyday microcosms of glory.
Death and life are weighty subjects. The only reality that gives either meaning is truth outside those words.
Eternity exists. God’s ways are mysterious, but He promises present pain isn’t without meaning. Even grief has a place in what can feel like a scrambled jigsaw puzzle of experiences. His gospel gives hope, grace, triumph even in the mundane and the frightening.
His immovable character is the only thing that gives me hope and steadies me in life’s uncertainty, the suspense of tragedy lurking around the corner.
I can cast all my burdens on Him because rather than responding with cold indifference, He cares. Even more staggering, He is with me, even in my darkest moments.
I want to fill my lungs to capacity, plunge into each moment––each crystalizing memory––with bravery. That bravery is a gift––a by-product of resurrection hope.
Through the gospel, I am free of sin’s tyranny, the terror of the grave. Death is a now a threshold to eternity resplendent.
“[Christ] Himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” –Hebrews 2:14b-15
The power of resurrection hope overrules the terror of death’s tyranny. I do not face an abyss of nothingness when I think of mortality. Rather, it means my mission of joyous obedience to the One who saved me is complete.
And the burden for those who don’t know Christ’s redemption is that they are hurtling toward death without purpose or living hope.
The burden of every redeemed heart is for others to know the fullness of abundant life Jesus promises. He came that we might exchange hearts of stone for hearts of flesh––restoring us to our intended humanity.
Judgment is as real as eternal bliss. We’re all guilty before a perfect Judge. But He is gracious, compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
Christ is the way, truth, and life. He died the death we deserve and rose from the grave to seal our salvation, setting our souls free from the bondage of sin and fear. Wrath rained on him so we would be free.
In trusting Him, eternal life is the gift freely given.
Don't depart this glimmer of life without reconciliation to God. He offers hope indomitable, peace that surpasses understanding, infinite communion in His glory.
“You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”
Without Him, we’re hollow souls chasing after shadows of fleeting pleasure. He promises rest, as you turn from a shell of life lived for lesser things, to the Fountain of all life and joy.
There is infinite meaning found in the finitude of our humanity. Grasp Him by faith––He’ll not abandon your soul, even beyond the grave.
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
This side of eternal joy, fear isn’t altogether banished. But even on the days where the promise of victory seems like a facade, we have a lasting treasure. Hope is rooted in Christ’s atoning death and resurrection––it promises life beyond the grave, bursting from tombs.
Grief is crushing. The pain of loss pierces deeply. Life bears heavy on the soul. And yet there is hope, for those who cling to the Hope-Giver.
In Christ, decaying bodies are eclipsed by resurrection hope. Death’s sting is exchanged for radiant joy––knowing Jesus is victor, redemption is real, and enduring hope is forever secured in the gospel.
“He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of His people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.
It will be said on that day,
“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him, that He might save us.
This is the Lord; we have waited for Him;
let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation.”