The Terribleness of Death

I spoke to my brother the other day on the phone. He seemed a bit down and I asked him how he was. He told me that the sister of his son’s friend had just died that day of cancer. She was 16 years old.

I did not know this girl, or her family. But after I hung up the phone, I thought about it. I thought about her and her family. I thought about my brother and his family. 

I thought of how terrible it is to have a life snuffed out  in the blossom of youth, a whole life ahead of her and all of the joys and sorrows that would have gone along with that life.

 I thought of the terrible, unfair nature of life and how it rips the guts out of people. I thought about the finality of it all. I thought about how this girl’s family will cope with the loss of their baby. To me, 16 is still a baby.

I couldn’t imagine how terrible it must be for them.  But I know that it is.

I have another friend, that I met through blogging, who lost her son not all that long ago in a wreck on an icy road. I can see her tears and pain in the words that she wrote and that she still writes today. She is a strong woman of faith. But the pain is there. Of course it is. Time will ease it, sometimes. But it will never go away. Not in this lifetime.

Another friend just lost her sister in-law (age 26) a few days ago in an off road vehicle accident that almost killed her brother as well. In the blink of an eye a mother of two little ones, a wife, daughter, and sister, is gone. 

Death is not a “passing”.  It is death.  It is the end of being. It is final. There is not an automatic segway into some etherial Shangri-la. When you die, you are dead. You no longer ‘are’. I emphasize this fact because of all the “spitituality” that is floating around out there in our biblically illiterate society. We fear death, so we make it palatable. We turn it into something that we can handle.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I can’t handle it.

Death is not something that I can soften, or paint with cheery colors, or laugh off with fatalism.

Death is our certain outcome and there is a date on the calender with our name in the square. This life passes us by like a snap of the fingers and our day will be here.

I went to a funeral of a co-worker several years ago and the minister doing the funeral service said that he didn’t know why we had to die. I looked around casually to see if anyone was as astounded by that remark as I was. If anyone was, I couldn’t tell.  “The wages of sin is death.” I’m pretty sure that’s in the Bible somewhere (more than once).

Because of the first Adam and his rebellion, we too have that rebellious nature. We too, want to ‘do it ourselves’…call the shots…put ourselves first…ignore God’s law. We don’t love God and our neighbors as ourselves.  We just don’t want to. 

God promised Adam that “on the day that you sin (eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil) you surely will die.”

That was the day that we stopped trusting in God. We are all complicit. There is not a one of us who desires to listen to God and to obey…otherwise we would.

But God loves us anyway. He made us… we are His creation. He does not desire that our sin and our resulting death have the last word. He wants us to live forever with Him!

So He did something about it. He sent the second Adam, Jesus Christ…”just as sin entered the world through one man, so does one man’s act of righteousness lead to aquittal and life for all people.” (Romans 5:18 paraphrased)

Jesus had to die, too. But His death on that bloody cross was for us. To save us from eternal condemnation and eternal death and eternal seperation from God.

By faith, God makes us righteous and grants us salvation. He does this in our baptisms, where He gives us the forgiveness of our sins, and the Holy Spirit. He does this for us in His preached Word, and in His Holy Supper. He wants us to have life forever, the way He originally intended that we have it. So He gives it to us again through faith, because of Jesus Christ.

God has given you life to begin with, and He surely can give it to you again when you need it again. His favorite thing to do is to pull people up from the bottom of graves.

He loves you. He forgives you ALL your sins. He has promised to make you His child in baptism and by faith. All so that the terribleness of death can no longer follow us into His Kingdom.

Jesus Christ has conquered sin, death, and the devil…FOR YOU!

 

That, my friend, is the Good News.  Amen.

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Do you believe it?  If you do…then you’ve got it!

But don’t take that Word of promise for granted.  There are other words out there also, that would rip you away from that belief and bring eternal death back into your future.

Find a church where the promises of God are read and preached, and where His Sacraments are offered freely in accordance with those promises.

Do you think you’re going to hear this stuff at the mall, or the Dodger game?

You need to be kept in faith. There is a long race to be run, you know.

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