Even with Hope, Death Stings

There’s a verse in 1 Corinthians 15:55 that asks, “Where, O death, is your sting?” I know that’s referring to the fact that, because of the resurrection, death doesn’t have the final say for followers of Christ. But this week, I’m feeling that death does have sting, and plenty of it—at least on this side of Heaven.

On Monday, my parents attended the funeral of one of their dear, old friends, the wife of a couple they met in the very first house they owned. My brother and I spent long summer nights playing with their kids, while the parents sat, talking and laughing over beers and a barbecue grill. This friend leaves behind a husband of 40+ years, two grown kids, and several grandchildren. Her husband was a wreck at the funeral. Yes, death stings.

Yesterday, half the people in my office attended the funeral of a colleague who died of cancer. She was in her 40s, I believe. Her husband now has to raise their two young children without the love of his life by his side. And their kids will win sports games, attend school dances, have their first kiss, and experience the many other milestones of their youth without the eyes of their mother looking on. Indeed, death stings.

For the families of the 149 people killed in an instant when a pilot intentionally downed a German airliner, death sure as heck stings, especially as they hear the story told and retold in the news.

When a member of your family or circle of friends passes away—particularly when it’s sudden or at too young an age—grief takes hold, and it’s hard to imagine a day when the sun will shine brightly again. Those who trust in the Lord know that death does not get the victory. Although this brings hope for tomorrow, it doesn’t erase the raw pain and emptiness that death can bring. Even Jesus was deeply moved at the death of Lazarus, before he called him out of the tomb. I guess the trick is learning to live comfortably in a space of both grief and hope—confident that over time, hope will tip the scales.

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