Monday, July 21, 2014

When Death Comes

Russel Saltzman has a fine piece entitled Five Rules for Consoling the Dying.  The whole piece is worth reading but I was especially by these words:
First, if you are approaching a bedside, try not to act like a novice Optimist Club member, all hale and hearty and booming of voice. I know you are trying to cheer people up, but that’s not the way to do it. Ginned up bon ami “let’s do lunch soon” camaraderie makes me wonder if you can see reality.
But, as somebody is always saying, where there is life there is hope, right? Good cheer is part of that, right? Sure, but let’s keep it real. For Christians the ultimate hope that cheers us is lodged elsewhere than in a firm bedside handshake.
Nobody’s getting up from this bed, understand. This room, these faces looking at the patient, those things on the wall, these are all that remain of a life that once enjoyed more, much more. Things have gotten smaller now. The world has become vastly diminished, constricted. Hope of getting the grass cut this weekend or doing any of those other small ordinary things that mark the pace and even the pleasures of our life—those are over and of no concern.
With that last paragraph I couldn't help but think of my own father's death and all that led up to it.  I then realized that unless death comes for me very quickly my world will shrink down--"become vastly diminished, constricted"--and the rhythms of life I now enjoy will be over.  In light of this I feel both saddened and enlivened.  Saddened--it wasn't meant to be this way.  Sin is so utterly devastating and ugly.  Enlivened--Jesus has been raised from the dead!  He will raise me and all his people up to eternal life.  The specter of death still roams and runs but there is Another--the destroyer of death.  I believe in the resurrection!