How to Deal with Death
I was at work the other day when my wife texted me. It had been a normal day up until that point. When I read the message, I was taken aback. Someone I had known had just tragically died at a very young age.
Even though we were only acquaintances, I was still affected. It made me wonder: how should we deal with death when it is unexpected or even expected?
Three things came to mind.
1. Look Backward
In Genesis 1-2, there was a world without death. In the garden, Adam and Eve enjoyed all the common graces of life and also the special pleasures of knowing God.
There was no sting of death. There was no pain of loss. There was no lack of companionship.
In the garden, we get a picture of what life is supposed to be like. We get a picture of what life without death is to be like. Even though we are not given many details of life before the fall, we can assume it involved all the blessings of godliness and none of the death which came into the world because of sin.
So how does looking back to a time when there was no death help us deal with death today?
It reminds us to look forward to a time when there will be no death (I will get to that later) and understanding that we were created for life with God gives us the proper perspective to understand the weightiness of death.
The pain that comes with death is especially potent because it cannot be truly assuaged by medication nor actually covered up by pleasure. Especially in a tragic circumstance, the pain is different than ripping off a bandage. The initial pain of a bandage is potent, but it goes away quickly. In tragedy, the pain continues on as a dull ache for a long time.
This pain has to be dealt with. It cannot be ignored.
Grief is a natural reaction to death. It is a healthy reaction because it takes death seriously. As I mentioned earlier, grieving really understands the weightiness of death. Grief over death shows that we all know something is wrong with death.
Nevertheless, mere grief is not a true balm for our souls. If we grieve because we know something is wrong, can that thing be made right?
3. Look Forward
Of course death can be made right. And it will be!
“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14).
It is only in Christ by repentance and faith that we can take the “looking forward” approach to death.
The Lord Jesus Christ came as a humble servant and defeated death with death. Jesus defeats death in three ways. First, he lived a perfect life without sin; the wages of sin is death. So, he earned no death. Secondly, he died the death that others deserved. God made his own Son’s death a means to end death for those who trust in Christ. Third, he rose again. He did not stay under the grip of death.
And as surely as he rose again, Paul says, “even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 4:14).
Dear Christian, look forward to the day when Jesus comes back and defeats death for good.
“Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.” (1 Corinthians 15:24-26).
Lord Jesus, come quickly!
“Death is only a grim porter to let us into a stately palace.”
— Richard Sibbes