David’s aunt Sue died on Friday night after almost three years of battling pancreatic cancer. It’s a very close family so if you have a moment, please say a prayer for them: her husband Ralph most of all, her two sons Brian and Michael, David’s father Bill, her brother, and the rest of the family. I will be singing at her funeral on Wednesday morning. I’m honored to do it, and also quite nervous. I can get emotional.
I was telling this news to one of the “seasoned” nurses on my unit today who has worked oncology for 21 years, and has had a lot of experience with grieving families. She asked, “Was she a Christian?” I replied that she was, and then her face lit up. She said, “I always use this analogy: When a baby is born the process is very ugly, painful, messy, and hard. But the end result is something beautiful and alive. For a Christian, death is the same way. The process of dying to this world is sometimes painful and ugly, but on the other side is peace and joy. And those that are left here can take comfort in knowing that they helped her make it there.”
When I heard that Sue had died, what I felt was sadness for her family. The more I think about it, the more I hate death. But God hates death too. In the story of Lazarus being raised to life, Jesus arrives to the home to find the dead man’s family grieving. They say to him, “Why didn’t you come sooner? If you would have been here he wouldn’t have died!” They are mad, frustrated, saddened, and confused. This is followed by the famous verse, “Jesus wept.”
Many times people interpret this verse to show how Jesus empathizes with us and knows what it’s like to feel all of the emotions that we feel. I believe that is true, but I see this verse differently. I believe that Jesus wept because there he was, physically in their midst, the resurrection and the life, and yet they are grieving! He is saddened at their lack of trust in him, because he is ALL ABOUT LIFE!
I don’t mean to say that grieving is bad. I think it is good and necessary. But hope. Hope and trust in God. And praise Him that we don’t have to live forever in these imperfect bodies, in this sinful world. Praise Him for his power and goodness and His perfect plan working out perfectly for those who love Him. Praise Him for newness, praise Him for redemption. Praise him for joy ever-increasing forever. Praise Him for life!