THE OPPRESSION OF LOSS - P5
“Then all his sons and all his daughters arose to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. And he said, ‘Surely I will go down to Sheol in mourning for my son’” (Gen. 37:35).
Death is oppressive. We weren’t created to experience death, nor the loss of loved ones. We were made to live deathlessly with God. And so, we sense in our spirits that death is unnatural and wrong. Death comes in many ways and at many times, and the trauma of death strikes deeply into our spirit, because it is deviant—it is an injustice to life. Yet, it is an injustice we forged ourselves by turning from God in Eden. “Death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12b).
Even so, we have become used to the reality that people are born, grow old, and eventually die. Yet, when we face the death of a loved one, we know in our hearts nothing about it is normal or natural. And in confronting the unnatural nature of death, nothing seems more wrong than the loss of a child. Even though we see death as “natural” now in a fallen world, we know it is wrong for children to die before their parents. Jacob could not be comforted when he thought Joseph was dead. Like Jacob, everyone grieves and mourns in anguish and sorrow over the deaths of loved ones.
We grieve because we no longer share their lives, and we cannot take comfort in their presence or rely on them. We feel the loss keenly. With the loss of a child, we are embittered that we can no longer comfort and encourage them, take joy in their accomplishments, or see them fulfill their dreams. We can no longer show them how much they are loved and mean to us—more precious than all the riches of the world—and how we would gladly give our own lives for them! Our lives are poisoned by the reality that our children will not experience the life God gives. The injustice of all death is terrifying, but we sense the loss of a child’s life as the most unjust of all.
The devil is not oblivious to death’s traumatic and unnatural effect on us, for he assisted the first suicide, that of Adam and Eve, and inspired the first homicide, that of Abel. Satan uses death to terrify and oppress us. He tormented Job with the death of his children—all to push Job to curse God to His face. Satan uses death to accuse God to us, because in our heart of hearts, we know death is wrong and we know God can undo it, if He wants. So, we are tempted in our emotional horror to accuse Him of allowing this unnatural evil to exist. And therein lies the rub, for mankind brought death on itself and man bears the guilt for its existence, even while God in His mercy has already de-fanged the power of death and will soon put death to death, ending it once and for all at the appropriate time.
This is why Paul tells us that we should “not grieve as do the rest who have no hope” (1 Thess. 4:13-14). Why? Because Jesus has conquered the power of death, which is to forever separate us from God, each other, and eternal life through our sin. Unlike those who have no hope, we go to be with the Lord until the appointed time when we are resurrected into new bodies not subject to death. It is because Jesus conquered the power of death that Christians do not mourn without hope. For we have the promise that we will see our loved ones again and that they will live with us and we will be with them for all eternity where there will be no more parting or tears.
Yet, this still does not remove the pain and anguish that we feel now with the unnatural injustice of death. And that is why Paul tells us to “weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15b). Death is heartbreaking. May we grieve over death, and may we mourn in hope. For soon, we will be with them, never to be parted again and death will not shadow our hearts. Death does not have the final say on our loved ones and they are safely with the Lord, even while we grieve their absence in our lives. They are in God’s hands—may we trust His hands. Even so, Amen.