Death is an old acquaintance of mine. He has visited my door a couple times in the the past. He came to take my father and then again years later to take my mother.
Both times were some of the hardest of my life.
Death rarely comes with any mercy. He does not ask if this is the right time. He leaves a mountain of pain and destruction in his wake.
His presence also lingers long after we’d like for him to leave.
He likes to follow us around and stand right behind our shoulder. Even in our distractions, he will tap us on the shoulder and remind us about our loss. The times when he sits across from us and stares into our hearts are even harder.
My experience with death made me fear him, loathe him, and run to distractions to block out his presence. While difficult, my experience with death taught me something important.
He does not have the last word.
There is one whose words speak louder. One whose power is greater. One who can replace the pain and destruction with comfort and healing.
His name is Jesus.
I know of his power because I’ve experienced it. I’ve seen it with my eyes. I’ve watched it change my heart.
Death created or helped create loneliness, depression, and addiction in my life. Jesus washed all of those open wounds with his blood. His blood left a wake of relationship, joy, and peace.
I know things may seem uncertain. I understand if you just want to sit alone in a quiet place. I ask you to do something in your uncertainty and solitude.
Ask Jesus to show you his love and speak truth into your heart. Continue this request each day. Then look for ways to turn your attention to his love and truth.
Find a local church and a few people who want to experience Jesus’ love and truth with you.
I didn’t seek out a church after death visited me. This is one of the biggest regrets of my life. I assumed I could make sense of things on my own and time would heal the wounds left by death.
I can’t make sense of things on my own. Time doesn’t heal all wounds. Jesus is the only one fit for those jobs.
If any of the tragic events of 2016 have not affected you, I encourage you to reach out to those who have been affected. We are called to mourn with those who mourn(Romans 12:15). I’m not talking about creating a complex system of support for those who are hurting.
I’m talking about spending time in their presence, giving a hug from time to time, or making them a meal. The kindness of Christ is one of the most powerful forces in the world. I know because it was the force which started to heal all the damage created in my heart.
It started with a couple friends who showed up at my door unannounced. I will never forget that moment. It was when the healing began.
The rest of the story is found scattered throughout my blog posts. So much of the good in that story started with those two friends. God used them in a powerful way and I am incredibly grateful to both God and them.
All the healing and love in my story doesn’t mean Death is no longer in the picture.
Death remains an old acquaintance. I forget about him from time to time until a friend talks about the holidays or calls their parents. Then his hands give a light tap and my heart darkens by a shade.
My friend Jesus is there too. He does not just tap me on the shoulder either. When I engage with him, he gets this giant smile on his face and wraps me in a bear hug.
Death can tap all he wants. His power matches up to Jesus’ love like a camp fire versus a tidal wave.
I understand death feels much closer and more powerful to those affected by recent events. I don’t write this to make you stop feeling one way or start feeling another. I write this because I want to give you hope.
If my words upset or offended you, forget them. Take away only one thing. Jesus is there for you.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. – Deuteronomy 31:6
Call on him and ask for his comfort. Reach out to those who are faithful to him. Continue inviting their care and love into your life.
Image Copyright: Konstantin Tilbergby