In memory of Jeff

I write to you today on the coat tails of receiving news that a childhood family friend of mine has lost his battle to ALS.  He was my age, and I even messaged him hours before he died.  My words to him were to not fear death.  That we all have to be ready to die, because any of us could go at any minute.  That night after writing to him, I was in and out of dreams where he was in them.  I would partly wake between them, turn over and whisper a prayer for him.  Little did I know he was slipping into the arms of Jesus during those hours.

Life can feel so sorrowful at times.  I was driving home right before writing this, crying over the heartbreak of death.  My friend is survived by a mother and three sisters.  His Dad died when we were in high school.  As I rocked Jude tonight before laying him in the crib for bed, I thought about his mother.  A sweet lady who has buried a husband, and this weekend will bury a son.  My mother’s heart cried for her as I thought about all the nights she did the same for her boy as I was doing for Jude.  All the night waking, the rocking, the kissing skinned knees, the wiping of tears, and the singing of lullabies. She tucked him in at night all the way up until his very last.

We all know people who have died.  No one is exempt from the pain of loss.  But as I was crying this evening, what kept bubbling up out of my heart over and over again was the Bible verse, “oh death, where is your sting?”  I looked it up when I got home and it is 1 Corinthians 15:55.  It says “oh death, where is your sting?  Oh grave, where is your victory?”  The loss of a loved one is like a deep horrifying sting.  It hurts terrible…and it lingers for a while.  Two verses later, it says “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”.  This tells us that there is good news.  In verse 55, the word “grave” in Strongs definition states that the original Greek word here is Hades, or Hell.  Paul was saying that Hell does not have victory over us…or better stated, Hell does not have the final say over us.

So if this is true, how do we get victory over Hell?  Verse 57 tells us.  It is God who has given us that victory through Jesus Christ.  Without Him…there is no victory.  There is no good news.  There is no hope for us.

But praise God, we have a blessed hope.  For those of us who have put our faith in Jesus Christ, His blood paid for our entrance into the glorious place where God lives, far from death and pain and loss.  The place where Jeff slipped into just a couple nights ago.

But he is not crying like we are.  The Bible tells us that Jesus will wipe away every tear.

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or sorrow, or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away”, Revelation 21:4.  This doesn’t mean that Jesus is walking around Heaven with a tissue in his hand wiping everyone’s tears.  It means that there ARE NO MORE TEARS in Heaven.  For He wiped away all the reasons to cry for us and from us.  His death meant there will be no more death for us…no more Hell.  The pain He suffered meant we will not have pain anymore.

What a Savior.  What a God.

I don’t have the answers as to why some of us seem to have more grief and loss than others.  Some would look at my friends Mom and say that she has had a terrible lot in life because she lost the two men in her life that she loved the most.  Some would blame it on God, or question why He would allow it.  Or worse yet, many people throw out the blanket statement, “it must have been God’s will”.  This statement is as far from the truth as possible.  God’s will has NEVER been for death to even happen.  We weren’t even created for it.  That’s why it’s so hard.  Our original DNA wasn’t hard-wired to comprehend and live through the death of a loved one…but because of the fall of man, which the Bible says started with Adam, death came.

Romans 5:12, and Romans 5:21 says “therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man(Adam), and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all have sinned…as sin reigned in death, even so grace must reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  (emphasis mine)

What is all this saying?  It’s saying that death came into the world through Adam’s disobedience, but life and victory came into the world through Jesus.  That’s why Paul wrote “oh death where is your sting?  Oh grave, where is your victory?”  Because death is not victorious anymore!  Death is not the final statement on our lives!  It may feel like it because it hurts so much to say goodbye.  But, to those of us who have put our trust in the saving grace of Jesus, it’s just “see you later”.  That person who has their faith anchored in Jesus who slips out of life here, slips into Heaven without as much as another thought.  It’s like taking off a coat.  A coat that is cumbersome and worn out that desperately needs new life.

So to my friend, Jeff, who is now running around Heaven side by side with Jesus in a perfectly strong new body, I say…”I will see you later, my friend”.  No goodbye.  No sympathy for a short life.  He just got promoted to the best place we will ever see or know.  Where Jesus Himself is ruler over a whole new order of things.  Where he will never again know pain, loss or grief.

I don’t know about you, but I want to be in a place like that…forever.

Thank you, Jesus, for giving your life for mine…and for giving your life for Jeff’s too.