Images of death are all around us. We switch on the television news and right there in our living rooms are images of people dying or being killed, with all the trauma and upset that the bereaved go through. We pick up a newspaper and similar images assail us. We can become somewhat anaesthetized by the regularity of pain and suffering of others. But, when it comes close to home, our focus and attention are sharpened.
Both my wife and I have lost our fathers this year. They were “old and full of years”; nevertheless, when it happened, it was still a painful experience. More recently, two deaths occurred in our local congregation – after much suffering that preceded them.
While those of us who have been called into the Church and have been given the precious knowledge of God’s truth still grieve for the loss of a loved one, the understanding of future events is most comforting. Uniquely, we know that our loved ones who have never been called in this life will have their first opportunity, and those who died in the faith will be in God’s Kingdom at the first resurrection. What fabulous knowledge!
At the Feast of Tabernacles in England this year, we had a most marvelous piece of special music titled, “New Heavens, New Earth.” The words, “God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There will be no more pain,” are taken from Revelation 21:4. What knowledge could be more inspiring? The last enemy to be destroyed is death (1 Corinthians 15:26), and death is to be swallowed up in victory (1 Corinthians 15:54). We know that death is an enemy that will be removed.
When a family member, a relative, a church member, a friend or an acquaintance dies, we can be saddened and it can weigh heavily on our minds. We also understand, however, that life here and now is temporary, and that our great Creator God has so much more in store for us in the future. We have to have that vision – and how comforting that can be.