There is something bitter sweet about maturing. As the years pass, experience can take a toll on one’s soul. Pride can be replaced with humility; foolishness with wisdom, and ignorance with knowledge and understanding. Unfortunately as we get older, we learn that time is precious and that the things we thought we would get to, disappear in the background of our busy schedules. So then, I ask…what do we make of those experiences that bring about a change that only time can make. Especially those experiences that involve death…which is a gripping fear and reality that so many experience.
Fear can be very debilitating, you know? I mean, it can be the catalyst behind so many decisions that we would not otherwise make if our catalyst was none other then Jesus Christ of Nazareth. He even tells us in Matthew 10:28, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (NIV, biblehub.com). So then, why does this death experience bring so much pain to those under the sun? I have asked myself this many times…why does this all too familiar, unplanned, and uncontrolled experience have so much power?
Recently encountering death of a loved one has had me wandering off in my mind a bit more than usual. I have encountered this all too familiar situation several times before. Some coming with relief, some with personal pain, and a few leaving unanswered questions as well as relief and pain. Most recently, this experience with death of a loved one has brought along a different understanding of death. A fresh revelation and a sense of awe and amazement of the One who is Mighty, Just, Healer, Judge, and our Prince of Peace.
With Easter quickly approaching, I’ve been in a place of meditating on the crucifixion of Christ, and have found myself asking God to bring a fresh revelation, or fresh perspective rather, on death because it brings more with it then just the act of death itself. It brings confusion, pain, tears, anger, sadness, mourning, breathlessness, sleeplessness, depression, a need to stay busy, a need to be held, more anger, more questions, more sadness…the list can continue. After thinking and praying on this for several days, I realized I needed to go to His word on the matter because His word is full of truth and nothing but the truth, Amen! So, I began unpacking the death of Christ on the cross word for word and was drawn to Mary’s perspective of Jesus’ death. A perspective of a mother losing her child. An experience that I have observed to be one of the most devistating encounters of death. What was she feeling, thinking, longing for? Further, what was that moment like when Jesus took his final breath and committed His spirit to the Father? Can we sit on that thought for a minute?
When we think of Jesus’ death and what Mary may have felt to see her son’s death, we need to first realize he was her son. Yes he was God’s son, but he was her son also. She raised him when he was tiny and vulnerable. She loved him through all of his various trials. She encouraged him, took care of him, nursed him, changed him, clothed him and cooked him dinner. He was her son, and she had a front row seat to his death from start to finish. She saw the hate in the eyes of her son’s adversaries. The rejection and mockery within their words. The “king of the jews” spat on, mocked, and crucified in front of her very eyes. She saw that very moment when that warm body started the process of becoming cold. When the body that held the purest soul this world has ever known became lifeless. She experienced a moment that is awaiting all of us who are born on this Earth. However, in this exact moment…she saw that first moment when heaven kissed Earth. An experience that I cannot explain in any other way currently. It is that moment when everything that a person hoped for takes flight and we trust that they are inheriting what is promised. That moment when it is finished and His child’s spirit is committed to the Father.
So what do we make of Mary’s perspective because she is the one who was left behind so to speak. Even though Christ did raise from the dead on the third day, can you imagine, from her perspective what kind of pain those three days brought to her life? You cannot undo what you have experienced. God can bring healing. He can restore it and give back what the locus have stolen, but you still feel everything associated with that experience you encounter. Even after his resurrection and ascension into heaven…she still must have missed his presence because where he was going nobody could go with him just yet (John 13:36, NIV). And what a purpose she had with getting to have one of the most intimate relationships one could have with the world’s Savior. I weep when I simply think about His death, let alone can I imagine how I would be if I had the view she had with the relationship she had. That is why I just love John 20:29 when Jesus says “Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (NIV, biblehub.com).
With all this being said, what can we learn from Mary’s perspective and how do we correlate it to our own experiences with death of our loved ones who we know are His children? Who we know are co-heirs with Christ? First let us realize if the Savior of the world, God in flesh form, experienced death in the way he did, why would we imagine it would be any easier for us? Further, let us be reminded of Matthew 5:4 which says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (NIV, biblehub.com)…and man does he comfort them. Don’t you know that God was in every moment with Jesus and Mary…yes…and He is with us also. We may not be fully aware of it, or know to the extent of it, but I K-N-O-W…know it! It is such a beautiful and comforting verse when facing trials of various kinds, but even more so when one of His children is mourning a death.
Grieving the loss of someone whom you love, whether it be suddenly unexpected or slowly expected, whether it be for an embryo, infant, child, young adult, or an older adult…regardless of the the who or how, it is surreal, but yet very real. It is one that can not truly be sympathized until experienced at close proximity and/or experienced in the particular way the one grieving has. So don’t you know that God is near? Oh because he is….he is very near. Constantly comforting those mourning. I can tell you for me this comfort has been a tangible gift of the confidence and hope in which we glory….a tangible gift of faith. An encouragement to press on and to imitate those who have gone before me who have been faithful and who have inherited what has been promised (Hebrews 6:12, NIV).
Death has been defined in several ways for me recently. One way being that it is more than just a loss of life, but a loss of comfort. A loss of losing the comfort in knowing that person is simply there. Their laugh, the slight turn of the head, that look you can see in your mind. The one you cannot capture with a camera because it just cannot do the real thing justice. Oh, how that look can be something so simple but yet so longed for to see again. And in these moments of rememberance, your heart hurts and longs for that look again. That smell. That laugh.
When you see the lifeless body you wonder, how is it lifeless…it had a soul not too long ago? A soul that brought many other souls happiness, sadness, laughter, tears, comfort, pain….a soul that loved and lived with the other souls still around me in this very moment. How can a body become so cold after it was so warm with life just moments ago?
So many questions circle around in my mind. This mind that seems to only rest in the arms of my Savior and friend. So many questions that cannot be fully answered yet. What I do find comfort in knowing is that all who have been chosen, accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, are standing before Jesus waiting for us loved ones to also inherit what is promised. I am still discovering so much on my pilgrimage as a devoted follower of Jesus Christ, but praise God for this most recent tangible gift of faith I saw in the passing of a devoted man of faith. Again, death is so hard, but if we are still enough…we can see God and His love all around. Even in the anger and questions. He is there.
My grandfather, Dorsey H. Tynes, was more then my grandfather. He was my tangible gift of faith that God gave me understanding about two days before he passed. My grandfather always wanted to leave a legacy worthy of all the things God had done for him, and he did just that. I saw what it looks like for a person of faith to stare so closely at death and be more concerned about people’s personal relationship with their savior…not the religion, the relationship…than he was concerned about his health. Before being called home he was in the constant act of talking. So much so that we had to almost force food in his mouth to get him to eat. I want to be like that. I want to be so about my Savior’s business that someone has to remind me to eat. What a place of faith!
Further, the lives my grandfather touched were innumerable. His name might not be famous in the world, but I know his name is famous in heaven. He clothed the naked, he fed the hungry, he sheltered the homeless, he buried the dead, he took care of the orphans and the widows, he visited the prisoners, he gave to those in need, he was friends with the rich and with the poor. That is faith lived out. It is not what we have or do, but the lives we touch on this Earth as vessels by loving the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind. Faith without works is dead. “…..Show me your faith without your works and I’ll show you my faith by my works,” James says in 2:18, NIV. What a gift to leave behind. I want to leave that kind of gift. Wouldn’t you?
I know dealing with death stinks. It stinks and it is hard. Life in general is hard. However, let us not lose sight of what is promised. Even in the midst of the tears and hurt. He is there. May we not miss the inheritance that we all so long for. Our precious moment when heaven kisses earth for us. So as we mourn, may we remember what Jesus said in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (NIV, biblehub.com).
Take heart my brothers and sisters…this world has trouble, but He has overcome the world. ❤️