On Friday, Prince Philip died. He was a major figure in public life. Though constitutionally his death has no real significance, culturally it has a big impact. To give you some indication of just how significant – though this was rubbished by some when it was said on Friday – the death of Philip is the thing that put a stop (at least for a bit) to Loyalists rioting in Northern Ireland. But the cultural implications go further still and that is all before we acknowledge the impact on the royal family itself.
The Queen has said the loss of Philip has left a huge void. Which is sad for her, though entirely unsurprising. Death is always sad. And it is hard to overestimate just how significant it is to lose your spouse. But that must be especially true when your spouse has been a constant in your life for 73 years. A huge void seems an apt description.
Nonetheless, there are grounds for hope. If Philip and Elizabeth are believers in Jesus Christ, then they will see each other again. The BBC somewhat ambiguously said Philip ‘had an interest in matters of faith’, whatever that means. And many believe there is enough in the Queen’s speeches – particularly those at Christmas – to believe that she has personal faith. Her friendship and respect for Billy Graham add some credence to that. If they both trust in Christ, then there is hope. Death is not the end for Philip. By faith in Christ, there is a way to be where he is which provides hope for us.
But this is also true for those of us who are left. If we have faith in Christ, we can go to the place where He is. If the one who has died trusted in Jesus, and we trust in him too, it means we will see them again. That is why the Apostle Paul said we do not ‘grieve like those who have no hope’. We believe in a real resurrection from the dead for those who trust in Jesus. We are able to see our loved ones again if they, and we, have faith in Christ.
Yet there is more comfort still. It is entirely understandable that the Queen should feel a void has been left. But if she is a real believer in Jesus Christ, it is not an unfillable void. Though we are rightly and understandably sad when our loved ones die – Jesus himself was sad when his friend Lazarus died even though he knew he was going to raise him from the dead – if our trust is in Christ, he will be our comfort. If Jesus is Lord of our life, those voids that are created when we mourn loss can be filled by him. The Queen spoke of Philip as her ‘strength and stay’, but for the Christian that is Christ. He is our rock and our salvation, our comfort and our joy.
Though it is inevitably sad when we lose a loved one, and the hole left should not be underestimated, if we trust in Jesus we are not left alone nor without hope. He remains with us to comfort us. And he gives us hope that one day we will be with him and, if our loved on trust in him, we will see them again too.