This week’s local news was tied up with traffic snarls and fatalities. I read of at least three different people who did not know they would spend life’s final moments in their car that day.
In national news, we were stunned last night to hear that YouTube celebrity and ex-Voice contestant Christina Grimmie was shot while signing autographs after her concert. This morning we learned that she died.
Unexpected death can leave us flailing. One day someone is here and the next day they are gone. One day you may hug a loved one goodbye, not knowing it will be a forever farewell.
Death creates an absence in our lives which can leave our hearts feeling carved out and empty. It hurts. It physically, wrenchingly hurts.
My biggest, deepest, most painful fear is of having my children die. It’s the thought of them no longer with me that brings me to tears and makes me clench my fists and say, “God, don’t You dare!”
Death unlocks a door to unimaginable grief. Part of my fear of losing someone I love dearly is that I will fall down the Alice hole without knowing how deep I will sink, how much pain I will endure, and wondering if I will rise again.
And yet, the same fists I shake at God begging Him to spare me the pain of grief are the same hands I know He will grab hold of and pull me through. I’ve been in “the pit” before. God met me there and wrapped Himself around me and pulled me out. I’ve been in the throes of emotional pain so deep that my body ached and I wanted Him to remove me from this life lest I tried to do it myself.
But as the worship song goes, “I’m no longer a slave to fear–I am a child of God.”
The lyrics to “In Christ Alone” also resonate strongly today:
“From life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny.”
If your hope is in Jesus and the power of His redemption of your sins, then whether we–or those we love–are taken from this earth, we can take comfort in knowing that wherever we go, He will be with us.
Does that mean it won’t hurt? No.
Does that mean we won’t weep? Probably not.
But to love without fear, and to live without fear, is a blessing only found in knowing Jesus. In Jesus, we know that every day we are alive is a gift He has given us, for we do not know when we will be taken from this earth.
If our hope is in Jesus, we know there are far, far better things in store for us. There is no fear in death, no uncertainty of where we will go.
Once we begin to wrap our heads around the fact that, apart from Jesus, everything in this life is temporary, it becomes easier to say goodbye. Love those around you deeply, but release them to God, so whether they are with you or (Lord willing) will go to be with Him, peace reigns in your life instead of fear.
Love fearlessly. Live fearlessly.
And when that day comes, you can die fearlessly.