Sunday, October 15, 2017

Heartbreaking Hope

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:24 ESV
This week has been hard.  A part of my mind is distracted, filled with whys, what ifs and should ofs, you see one of my best friends died this week on her 97th birthday.  I know that 97 is a long time to live and she had a wonderful life.  I know that when you are friends with someone who is twice your age the odds are good that you will outlive her.   Yet I was socked in the gut when I got the call.  My kids and husband hugged me tight and told me that she knew I loved her and that I was a good friend.

My youngest asked me, "Why do people die?"  In my shock and grief, I hardly had an answer. Thoughts about our bodies giving out, sickness and disease raced through my mind.   "I don't know. I guess everybody will die."  But my response was unsatisfactory to both of us. Why did she die this week?  After beating cancer, heart problems and other sickness, I didn't know why my friend had died.  Age didn't seem to be a good reason to me or my son, especially because he knew about my pregnant friend who just went to the Dr. last week and couldn't hear a heartbeat.

Questions followed like "Do we have a body in heaven?" and "What happens to babies in heaven?" I tried as best I could but my mind and heart weren't in it. I know I didn't have good answers but logic and knowledge were dulled by my broken heart. Later as the shock wore off, my brain couldn't let go of the question "Why do people die?"  If God loves us, why do we have to go through loss, grief and sadness? As I was talking with my son, he wondered, "Why God had made us if we were just going to die." I realized that at any age, death is cruel and as a result even life is cruel. My answer, "I don't know" wasn't satisfactory but it was all I had.

Finally, several hours later my brain clicked in and knowledge triumphed over my grief.  Death came because of sin! "Remember," I told my son as I was putting him to sleep, "The story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and how they ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? Well there was another tree in the Garden.  It was the Tree of Life. God's plan was for us to live forever, but because of sin we were kept from eternal life. That's why death at any age hurts so much. It is unnatural. We were made for eternity but the consequence of sin means that people die because they inherited sin because we are all descendants of Adam and Eve."

As Romans explains "Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all mene because all sinned—" People since Adam and Eve have faced the consequence of sin which is death. Jesus came to earth fully human and fully divine to break the curse of death so that we could experience eternal life.  Here's how the New Living Translation of Hebrews 2:14 explains this "Because God's children are human beings--made of flesh and blood--the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death."  Because Jesus died for our sins and broke the curse, those of us who accept him as our Savior get to spend eternity with him.

Revelation 21 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible.  It describes a new heaven and a new earth when sin and all its heartbreaking consequences are abolished.  Revelation 21:4‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’b or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”   Though there is pain and grief in this life as the next verse proclaims, 5He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”   This verse contains my hope.  God's words are trustworthy and true. All will be made new.  My mourning will end and joy will be eternal. I look forward to joining my precious friend at the foot of the throne crying out, "Holy Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, who is and who is to come."  Revelation 4:8

How would you answer the question if a little kid asked you, "Why do people die?"

None of us know when we will breathe our last breath, so I have to ask you, "Have you accepted that Jesus loves you and the good news that his death, has freed you from the curse of sin and death?  It is a free gift that has been given to you not because of anything good or bad that you have done but because God loves you and wants to spend eternity with you and I do too.

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