Death Sucks

There is something about death that is so de-humanizing. It pays no respect or dignity to any person. We often try to find ways to make death “happy” but the reality is: death sucks!

The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
1 Corinthians 15:26 (NIV)

I had a friend on the eve of my son’s funeral tell me that when Jesus wept in John 11:35 he was weeping because of the unbelief of the people around him that questioned his ability to raise Lazarus from the dead.

I love my friend but I think this interpretation is an easy way to “theologize” the suffering of Jesus and his friends.

I think he saw the unbelief. But more he saw the weeping and mourning and wailing. He saw it all but notice the way John records the narrative for us. In response to the weeping of Mary and those around her, he was “deeply moved in spirit and troubled” (verse 33). He went with them to where his friend was buried. Then John tells us that Jesus wept.

The people’s response in verse 36 tells us everything we need to know:

Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

When they saw Jesus crying, it wasn’t the crying of incredulity or vexation at their unbelief. It was the cry of agony that happens when we lose someone dear. The people saw that and felt that. They knew that Jesus loved Lazarus.

This scene is absolutely astounding to me. So many people want to posture God as an impersonal, disconnected deity. But he’s just not. It’s not true.

Jesus cared passionately for the suffering of those around him and I think he was personally sad that Lazarus was gone. He missed his friend. He experienced the pain of losing a close friend. He knows what it feels like to have your heart broken by the fallenness of this life.

But thankfully this scene in John 11 is not the end of the story.

I woke up this morning to a text message that my wife quietly relayed to me:

Grandma has gone home to be with the Lord. She is at peace now.

This is the second death that I have experienced this year. First my stillborn son. And now my last living grandparent. I know Grandma is at peace. I trust that she is with Jesus, safely.

But that doesn’t stop the sting and the pain. Something is not right about death. It sucks. This is not the way things were supposed to be.

For my son, I am sad because I never got a chance to meet him. I will never have a relationship with him on this earth. That pain crushes me often as my relationships with my living children grows every day. With Grandma, death wasn’t kind to her. It took her dignity and her mind. I hate it! I hate that we were robbed of our son suddenly and that Grandma was robbed of her humanity…slowly.

Both are painful. Both cry out for something greater.

We can take comfort only in Christ. 1 Corinthians 15 unpacks the Gospel from the formation of faith to the end of death itself. Verse 26 offers solace for battle-tested saints:

The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

Death will someday be destroyed. That day is not today. We haven’t experieneced the glory of being freed from the prison of death and decay. But we will.

In this life there is bitter pain. I’m not going to lie about it. There are some wounds that never heal. I will never stop missing my son and mourning his loss. I will never stop hurting and wanting to hold him. I will never stop wishing he was here with us.

But I do have comfort in Christ that we will wake up from the nightmare of sin and death and awake to a life that never ends with Him.

That is good news.

My Grandma, Anne Eileen Mincher, with her husband Charles McCoy Mincher.
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