July 8, 2019 - Life and Death - A Reflection on Matthew 9:18-26.
Over the past few weeks, several people I know have lost close family members. There has, of course, been much weeping, but that’s okay. Tears are the price one pays for love, and there is sure to be sorrow when someone we love dies. Memories will keep surfacing for weeks following the death; the person will be dearly missed, especially if they were very close to us; and there will be more tears, many more tears. Again, that’s ok.
What is not ok is clinging to the person, continually expressing the wish that he or she was still alive, because this implies that we haven’t really understood the new life believers obtain in Christ. Simply put, Christians live forever. When Lazarus died, his sisters Martha and Mary mourned his passing, but their friend “Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die” (John 11:25-26).
As Paul declares in his letter to the Romans, “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”. The Christian never dies, and the physical death we experience merely heralds the end of our journey here on earth. We continue our journey in heaven where there will be no more “mourning or crying or pain” (see Revelation 21:4). So, when I see people around me in terrible pain, and everyone around them asking God to keep them alive, it just doesn’t make sense to me.
There are no more tears in heaven. Once we understand this, we lose our fear of death — both of our own and of those we love. And those who REALLY understand what follows this life on earth, actually long for physical death to come. Paul was one of them. He said (I paraphrase): If I am alive, I am Christ’s messenger; if I am dead, I’m his bounty. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. But to be with Christ is better by far! So what shall I choose?” (see Philippians 1:21-23).
I am happy at the thought of death, because it means I get to go home and be with my Father — OUR Father — with Jesus; with the Holy Spirit. I know that my family will miss me. So might a few others. I hope a few tears are shed (I mean, come on!), but I hope the overall feeling is one of joy that I have finished the race (hopefully having run it well), and am now home where I belong.
I hope we can all feel this way about death.