For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
31 days ago I began writing about relying on God, fully without reservation. Over the past month, my writing took me to many places and emotions.
There are so many untold stories in my life where I’ve experienced God’s faithfulness, some big and some small. I am sure you can recollect some of these moments in your own life.
The Lord is faithful.
God’s faithfulness is seen in giving, creating, sustaining…It is also seen in taking, even the taking of life. To many of us, this is the hardest area for us to see God and feel Him at work. Yet, He is there. David rightly noted that in the moments we walk in the valley of the shadow of death, the Lord is there with us and we have nothing to fear.
Who better demonstrated the work of God through the dark valleys of death than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself who gave His life so that we could live? One of my favorite passages of Scripture is Philippians 2 because it greatly captures the fullness of Jesus’ humility in death. Here is an excerpt (verses 6-8):
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Philippians 2:6-8
This is the image of Christ that I carry through my losses. It is the image of Christ that wrapped me when I miscarried at 7 weeks two years ago.
The death of a loved one is probably the hardest thing we will all experience. The death of a child, even the unborn child, brings with it such vulnerability against life, against death. Because there truly is nothing we can do in the face of death. We can’t wish it away. We can’t protect ourselves against its pain and sting.
On this side of eternity death is final. It is a closed and sealed door.
But what is final to us is not so with God. Don’t despair! Christ, in love, walked this path on our behalf. He submitted Himself to death. His body laid in a tomb. To the humans He left behind, the weight of His death was too much to bear. They were disillusioned, frightened and crushed. Much of the same way we feel when we have to say “Good Bye” in death to a loved one. Hopes and dreams are shattered, sometimes almost in a flash.
But be assured that death is not the end.
Christ didn’t stay buried. Our Lord arose. He was the firstborn over all creation (Colossians 1:15) and the firstborn from among the dead (Colossians 1:18).
He is alive and in Him the church is made alive…long after death. For us, death may look like loss but it really isn’t. It is gain. In death, we are ushered into an eternity with our Lord and Savior.
We have the assurance that our loved ones are cradled in the arms of the Almighty, and that one day we will meet them again or meet them for the first time.
The apostle Paul gave us such encouragement on the topic when he wrote these words to the church in Thessalonica:
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14)
O dear friends, trust God and lean on Him even with this hardest challenge in life. The road is not simple or easy I know. We love and miss our loved ones dearly when they depart from this life, but we have hope; hope that they who know the Lord will live again and hope that those of us who are still living can lean on God for the strength and comfort to carry on.
Death isn’t eternal. God is.