Today I attended the funeral of a thirty-five year old young man. Justin was a husband and father of two little girls, the youngest born only five weeks ago. He was an attorney practicing at the firm where I work. A tragic car accident took his life this past Thursday. A tragedy like this will stop you in your tracks. Your sense of normalcy is suddenly rattled when a young life disappears so unexpectedly. I feel compassion and sympathy for his family and friends, especially his young wife and his mother.
My husband and I lost our mothers within less than a year apart. Death was not a surprise in each of our situations because our mothers were both very ill with cancer. Our families had time to prepare for what would inevitably be our final goodbyes. I am not saying that preparing for a loved one’s death is easy. Losing someone you love is never easy no matter how much you prepare. However, the unexpected death of the young has a tendency to overwhelm us. For a split second, our spirit asks God why he would allow something so heartrending to happen.
Loss hurts. Even Jesus wept because of the pain that death brings. Those of us who are believers in Jesus Christ know that death is only the end of life on earth and the beginning of life in heaven. Yet, no matter how strong we try to be, the death of a loved one is painful.
This young father was born the same year as my twin daughters. I find it difficult to type a word or phrase that could describe the sobering realization that I could be that mother mourning her loss today. The thought of losing any of my children is more painful than words can express. However, the truth is that death takes the young, the old, the sick, the healthy, the wealthy, the poor. Death does not discriminate based on race, age, gender, nationality, religion, or political party. We all stand equally vulnerable to that dark shadow that will ultimately visit all of us.
Most of us do not look forward to dying. Even those of us who are Christians have a slight hesitation when we think about passing through that inevitable shadow of death. We do not relish the thought of being told we have cancer or some other terminal disease. Most of us would react with shock and probably a slight sense of dread.
I know that political correctness has saturated our society and most of us are fearful of offending someone. Yet, death is real, and there is a life after death. After the inevitable shadow of death comes and takes your final breath, will you open your eyes in Paradise as Jesus promised the thief on the cross?
Death was not God’s original desire for humanity. Unfortunately, when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, sin and death entered the world. Death is a consequence of sin. Paul explained that “Just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Rom 5:12).
No matter how good you are, no matter how many times you have attended church, no matter how much you sacrifice, you cannot earn your way to heaven. Whether your father and mother were Christians or whether you were baptized years ago as a child, if you do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you cannot enter heaven. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
If you have one shred of doubt about where you will awake after death, please ask God to give you faith to do the following:
Admit that you are not ready to go to heaven when you die because you are a sinner. The Bible says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). All of us have sinned: therefore, no one deserves to be in heaven with God for eternity. “The wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23). Fortunately, God made a way so that we can join Him in heaven. You must . . .
Believe that although you are a sinner, Jesus Christ died to pay the penalty for sin and save you from punishment. Salvation is not a matter of turning over a new leaf or trying to live so that good works outweigh bad works. Salvation is the loving act of God whereby He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on Calvary’s cross to pay sin’s death penalty. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). If you believe this . . .
Confess to God that you believe what his word says, that you are a sinner, and that you believe Jesus died to save you from sin and its penalty. The apostle Paul wrote, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9). That is God’s promise to anyone who truly believes.
If you make this decision, have any questions, or just need to talk, please contact me on the “Contact” page. Your information will be kept confidential.
The inevitable shadow of death will visit us at any time. Today, in this moment, thank God for his love, his mercy and his grace. Thank him for allowing you to live another day on this earth. Thank him for the “’small’ daily miracles of providence in which he holds the universe together, provides us with air to breathe and lungs to breathe it, food to eat and stomachs to digest it.”[i]
Thank him for his beautiful creation and the eyes to enjoy it. Thank him for the warmth of the sunshine and the ability to bask in it. Thank him for the cool breeze that glides across your skin at just the right moment. Thank him and then just rest in his love.
“This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).
[i] Randy Alcorn, Ninety Days of God’s Goodness, (New York: Crown Publishing, 2011). Chapter 47 – “God’s Unseen Intervention.”
Kathy Garrett McInnis