Today, I am going to a funeral. Not one I am taking. It is for my Nana. Whenever funerals roll around, we are confronted with the reality of death once again. So, in no particular order, here are some brief thoughts on that.
There is an account on Twitter @death_reminder. Every day, it tweets the same four words:
That is just a reality. It might seem macabre and miserable, but it isn’t. The fact that we will all die someday has an impact on how we live. It matters because it affects what we might do today and why we do it.
Death is not the end
Hebrews 9:27 is clear enough: ‘it is appointed for people to die once—and after this, judgment’. There is an after this. Knowing that there is an after this affects things too. How we live today has an impact on what happens in the after this.
Death remains sad
The fact is, death is sad. It is not, according to Genesis 1-3, the way God originally intended things to be. Every time somebody dies, it is a reminder that we live in a broken world. We live in a world marred by sin and all its deleterious consequences. Death is not part of God’s original design and we rightly find it sad. If Jesus can cry at the death of his friend Lazarus – even though he knew he was going to raise him back to life – it is surely reasonable for us to find death sad too (cf. John 11:1-44).
Hope impacts grief
Paul, writing to the Thessalonians says this:
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.1 Thessalonians 4:13-14
If we really believe there is an after this – and we genuinely believe that those who trust in Christ will go to be with him in glory – it affects our grief. It doesn’t stop us being altogether sad, but it does mean we have hope. And hope necessarily affects grief for the better.
We can guarantee our after this
27 My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand.John 10:27-28
He also said:
16 For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.John 3:16-17
Truly I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life.John 5:24