On Death and Dying

Two friends died this week. With death and dying comes perspective and holy homage to God for the breath of life.

SunsetIt seems that death is more palpable in recent years. Of course we’ve all had people we know and love die in our lifetime. Yet it seems that in recent years the touch of death has come closer and closer. 

It may be an accident or tragic incident. It may be Covid or any and all things related to the world’s response to Covid. Or it’s just people getting older, as we all get older.

In any event, one might blame God or another mysterious entity we call cruel fate.

Either way, death hits fast and hard. And real.

A Difficult Week
Two dear friends died this past week. One, the husband of a couple we’ve known since our early days of marriage over 40 years ago. They too had double-digit multiple grandchildren. The other friend, the husband of a close neighbor couple we’ve known for over 25 years with whom my wife and I were actually set to go out to dinner this past weekend. 

Both friends succumbed to failing hearts – one with a long term illness, the other with a sudden attack.

These good men, fathers, husbands, grandfathers, and friends, were both strong Christ-followers. While there’s no doubt about their eternity, there’s lots of room for earthly sorrow, pain, shock, and a real sense of loss. 

Certainly death is easier for the departed. The ones left behind carry the burden of their life-long memories and now life lived without them. Our hearts weep for their wives and familes.

Does Faith and Religion Effectively Comfort?
Does faith and religion help? Even the best of us struggle with it. With his wife’s passing, the great Christian writer C.S. Lewis wrote:

Talk to me about the truth of religion and I’ll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I’ll listen submissively. But don’t come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don’t understand.1 

While death and dying is inevitable and the threat is there all of our lives, religious faith or religion itself may attempt to provide solace with the hope that this present life is not all there is.

Nonetheless, the consolation may still leave one wanting.

A Profound Conclusion
Many at this time, in reverence, will be drawn to the faith of their youth with a heartfelt search for peace ad comfort. Though they may still swirl in a living state of shock and wonder, many will humbly step closer to Jesus.

Jesus/God has a way of always being present in the great moments of life. I would reduce any faith or religion to a simple and profound conclusion: Jesus/God is the lynchpin to death and dying:

Truly, truly, I (Jesus) say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. (John 5:24)

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. (John 11:25)

Yes, the sting of death, though not eternal, is temporal and very real. Yes, death is the solemn capstone of an earthly life lived. But Jesus, as always, is the answer and antidote to our earthly plight filled with death, sorrow, pain, and suffering.

And Jesus puts any and all sacred life and death in a different perspective. He does not remove the pain, but increases the awe.

No matter who we are, even good men like my two friends this week dying too early, death actually warrants holy homage to God for the very breath of life given.

Seen in that light, death, like birth, like marriage and children, are all but God-blessed and touched milestones in a human life whose days are numbered, destined for 70 or 80 years:

Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away. (Psalm 90:10)

A person’s days are determined; You (God) have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed. (Job 14:5)

And so we live and die like flames that light the dark and then disappear. But not without an opportunity for impact and love and joy and peace and procreation and living a God-fearing life. All under the watchful, loving hand of the God who created us and to Whom we are all drawn back to, even on our knees, at these very vulnerable times when life faces death.

So Mourn, Honor, and Celebrate Lives
We therefore mourn, honor, and celebrate Steve Taylor and Chris Lykke now. Through the pain, shock, and sorrow, we can be and are still buoyed, comforted, and encouraged in our Christ-following faith by the passing of lives lived well and with purpose. 

With all due respect to C.S. Lewis, that is something we can understand.

As a blessed one who mourns, are you comforted? 

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. – John 14:1-3

1 A Grief Observed, by C.S. Lewis, Faber and Faber, London, 1961

Categories: Abundant Living, Calling, Church, Devotion, Discipleship, Faith, Family, Fathering, Jesus, Manhood, Marketplace, Marriage, Parenting, People, Prayer, Purpose, Suffering

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