When tragedies happen, when people we love die, we tend to wonder why God let it happen, especially if death seems unfair, untimely or just plain wrong. We hurt, our heart is overwhelmed with loneliness, and we long for the person who has died. We are sure that God must have made a mistake! Our emotions fluctuate madly, from sadness to anger, from rage to depression. We develop doubts about everything we hold dear, and we feel afraid. But, worst of all, we feel betrayed by God.
In the book As I Lay Dying, Richard John Neuhaus talks about death and about grieving. He expresses many deep truths about this topic, but there are two statements that were specially striking to me: “There is a time simply to be present to death whether one’s own or that of others without any felt urgencies to do something about it or get over it. The time of mourning should be given its due.” and “This life is now coming to an end; this life never lived before and never to be lived again.”
Grieving is something we all have to go through. The more we are aware of God’s love for us in our life and in our situation, the faster we will heal. Only God can and will bring healing to our heart. Only God will fill us with the peace we so badly need. Only God can surround us with His loving presence and help us from within. All in His time.
Dying is also something we all have to go through. Let’s think carefully about this fact: We all die. Yes, we are tired of hearing that, but think carefully. In one hundred years, almost every person currently on this earth will be gone everyone in Brazil, in Russia, in the USA. Even babies now in their mothers’ wombs, even they will most likely be dead in a hundred years. “How does this help me?” you may ask. “This does not help make things easier when someone I love dies.”
It may not help with the pain we feel, but it will help us not to fight with God. It will help us not to feel that He did something unfair or cruel. Once we understand that God did not do something cruel, but that death is simply something that we all have to go through because without death there is no life, then we can surrender our pain to Him. Then we can say, “Lord, I have no strength, and I feel as if I am drowning in my sorrow. Please help me. You are my everything, You love me, and I know You will help me out of this sorrow. Please make me whole once more. Please heal my heart.” This is the key that makes the difference between healing and moving on or drowning in our sorrow.
If we try to ponder these things in advance, then, when the time comes, we will be able to better bear the situation and remain afloat. When someone we love dies, the pain we feel is all about us we feel lonely, we miss that person, we have a hole in our lives. We ask questions. Will we survive the pain, or will we become the walking dead? Will we recover and become a blessing to others? Will we “finish our race”(2 Timothy 4;7), or will we be finished?
Jesus said that unless a grain of wheat dies, it will not flourish and grow into a brand new plant. (John 12:24) On earth, we are made brand new by God’s mercy but only if we are able to open up to His truth and surrender to His will. Only through death can we really flourish and be renewed to the fullness of the promise God gave us through His Son, Jesus.
Death not only brings new life to the person who goes to heaven, but many times death brings new life to the people who stay behind on earth. The death of someone we love makes us look deeply into our lives; it obliges us to reconsider the way we have been living up to that point. In the beginning, when we lose someone, we are overwhelmed by intense emotions: deep pain, immense emptiness and great sorrow. But this time is also a time of great grace. Happy the person who can say, “I kept faith, even when I said ‘I am greatly afflicted!’” (Psalm 116:10)
In times of great sorrow, we need to lean on those who are trying to reach out to us, trust those who are trying to console us and share their love with us. God is always reaching out to us through others. If we recognize our utter helplessness and extend our hand to hold the hand that is being extended to us, we will find comfort. In due time, we will find peace. And, little by little, we will heal and regain enough strength to carry on with our lives. Before we know it, we will be completely recovered, and we will be able to say: “Gracious is the LORD and just; yes, our God is merciful…Return, my soul, to your rest; the LORD has been good to you.
For my soul has been freed from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. I shall walk before the LORD in the land of the living.” (Psalm 116:5,7-9)
God is not unfair or unjust when someone dies. He simply has called home a beloved child. We all have a different time appointed for our death. In the Bible, God reminds us that “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) How beautiful it is to know for sure that to die is gain. God is not being cruel when someone dies. All have died. All will die. We have to die, or else how could we come to Him? How could we enjoy the promises of heaven? The Bible also says: “All these died in faith...But now they desire a better homeland, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” (Hebrews 11:13,16) We have a life to live, a mission to fulfill, and when our time is up, we have a home to go to.
Wisdom to contemplate:
“But the souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them. They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction, and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But they are in peace.”
“But the just man, though he die early, shall be at rest. For the age that is honorable comes not with the passing of time, nor can it be measured in terms of years. Rather, understanding is the hoary crown for men, and an unsullied life, the attainment of old age. He who pleased God was loved; he who lived among sinners was transported—snatched away, lest wickedness pervert his mind or deceit beguile his soul.” (Wisdom 4:7-11)
Note: If you like this chapter please leave me a comment or send me an email!