“Oh the games people play now
Every night and every day now
Never meaning what they say now
Never saying what they mean
And they wile away the hours
In their ivory towers
Till they’re covered up with flowers
In the back of a black limousine…”
-Song by Joe South, “Games People Play”
We all quietly shuffled into the funeral home that was crowded with people who had lost loved ones over the past year. It was a “Remembrance” night, where we were all invited to share, eat, and be comforted. I had lost two uncles last year, one tragically and the other after years of suffering. My aunts were there, as well as my closest family members. Someone stood up to speak, and what I had thought would be an uplifting hope-filled message left me even colder inside. “Death is a part of life.” He said as if we didn’t know now more than ever. But with the sting of his words, he also stirred up anger in me. Death was never meant to have the final say, nor will it continue forever! I’ve encountered death, and each time it has never felt “natural.” It felt wrong, sickening, gut-wrenching, and unjust!
I know he was trying in his own way to comfort others, but what any mourning person needs to hear is reassurance that death is not the end! They don’t want to dwell on death, but on what’s next for their loved ones. And yet, he isn’t alone in what he told us. We try to make death natural, we accept death as a part of life that is unavoidable and when someone old dies we say, “at least they lived a long full life.” But what about the young children? I’ve been to one of those funerals too, and I will tell you it is NOT ok, or right! Death is not our friend…He is our final enemy.
This life, in this reality, is temporary. Like a blink of the eye compared to the awaited eternity. Everything here that we see, is running on a clock, a timer, that will someday stop. As Christian hymn writer Isaac Watts wrote in one of his hymns, “Death, like a narrow sea, divides that heavenly land from ours.” Though we can experience the eternal unseen realm, we are divided from it physically, until we leave these bodies behind our soul is tethered to this world.
But what do I mean by death being the last enemy?
Easter is the day we remember Jesus’ sacrifice. So many of us stay there, mourning at the foot of the cross when Easter is truly a day of celebration. Jesus rose from the grave! He didn’t stay in the tomb, but came back, forever removing the sting of death. That though we may age and die, we could live fully alive and at peace because death is not the end, but the beginning of eternity. That death would not be a thing to dread, but an assurance that someday we will be with Jesus restored and whole.
I say this to stir up hope, we have all lost someone…but I know that their stories are not over, only beginning. There is always hope for salvation and redemption, who are we to know a person’s heart? Or to understand fully the heart of God? His love is eternal, it is agape love, and His will is perfect.
“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”