Daily tasks are mostly … well, normal… just necessary to the rhythm of life. But some days, normal seems … abnormal. Like when you find yourself slipping into the routine only days after the death of a friend. Though not unexpected in this case (since my friend’s earthly life concluded after a complicated and difficult struggle with disease), the event still leaves a hollowness, not unlike the echo of disappearing footsteps down a long and empty hallway. The more days that pass, the more it becomes obvious (especially for those closest to him) how many things are forever altered. But even so, it’s easy to drift toward the safety of routine.
Load the dishwasher.
Take out the trash.
Answer a few texts.
Maybe that’s the soul’s involuntary attempt turn away from the cold finality of death… as if putting another load of laundry in the washing machine will scrub away the sense of loss.
However, instead of allowing the cadence of the mundane to sweep us toward normality so quickly, maybe it’d be better to sit for a while… to absorb the weight of the passing of a life… to remind ourselves of the fleeting nature of our current existence and of the urgency of the gospel message. My friend knew Jesus as companion, and so this end, gratefully, is not the end. We hold on confidently to the steadfast hope for all believers that death is only doorway to unending pain-free, tear-free life in the presence of God.
But it isn’t that way for everyone. Countless people meet their end every day and, without Christ, have no hope for any “Rest in Peace”. In fact, according to Christ’s clear description in Luke 16, hell is not a place where people will go to live it up in unhindered wild lifestyles as many people joke. There won’t be parties, laughter, music, nor the embrace of friends and companions. In Jesus’s story, the rich man wasn’t anticipating his brothers joining him in Hades. Instead, his desperate plea was for his family to not join him. (vs 27-28) That’s because he was and would forevermore be residing in a place of conscious pain and isolation. That’s the guaranteed destination for all those who choose to reject the help of the ready rescuer, Jesus Christ.
So maybe the best way to honor my friend’s life (and the departure of others like him) is not to seek comfort in the ordinary, but to let the spectre of loss be a wake-up reminder of the ever-present reality of eternity. And as believers, let us chose not to drive away our fears by salving them with temporary comforts, but let the weight of truth become a motivator that pushes us to encourage others to believe the promises of Jesus now, knowing that the strength of His sacrifice forever broke the power of death.
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:55-57