Grieving with those who have lost a loved one is very challenging. Our hearts hurt for those that hurt because we know the deep pain that comes with the news that one we love dearly is dead. If it is sudden, the first response is denial because the mind cannot fully grasp the finality of that kind of news. Gradually, as the reality sets in, the ones left behind begin to wonder about life after this life. What is it like for my loved one? Where are they now? What do that know? Will we ever see each other again? The world has offered their views about how to deal with death. Here are some of their guesses…..
The resurrection of Jesus changed the world. Easter is so much more than learning how to face death without fear, with courage and dignity. After all, even philosophers, poets, and scientists can do that.
The astronomer Carl Sagan mentioned in an interview that he was looking forward to death as “the last great adventure.”
Walt Whitman, who wrote a beautiful poem upon the death of Lincoln entitled, “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d,” wrestled with the thought of death in his verses. In the end, he decided that all we can do is embrace it like a friend: “Come, sweet, soothing death. Undulate around me, arriving, arriving.”
His contemporary, the poet William Cullen Bryant wrote what some have called “the most beautiful American poem”, “Thanatopsis,” (which is Greek for “A View of Death”). And what was his view of death? In beautiful, flowing verse with elegant words, his bottom line was that the best we can hope for is that our body, placed in the earth, will by its decay help some other form of life spring forth. Our death helps produce life. No matter how elegant the language, that message is depressing.
God has so much more planned for us that merely to be fertilizer for ferns. That doesn’t dignify human beings. Jesus, however, gives us the highest dignity; he rose from death as our Redeemer to give us eternal victory. The work of Jesus is so powerful that Paul would write, “Death, where is your sting. Grave, where is your victory?” ”Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Jesus was very clear that there is life after life. What He promised is gloriously different from man’s dark explanation of death. Remember with me His words from John 14…
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. 2 There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you. 3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 “No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?”6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”