“We were promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told, 'Blessed are they that mourn,' and I accept it. I've got nothing that I hadn't bargained for. Of course it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not imagination." -C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
I remember, as a child, watching another boy use his BB gun to shoot a bird off of a power line for no reason. As he walked toward the bird, I tagged along out of curiosity. What I seen was a once fully alive bird now going through the process of death. My heart grieved watching it. At that point, as a young boy, I learned that, deep within, we know that there is something terribly wrong about death. It is “out of place” so to speak.
The subject of death is obviously not a popular concept or talking point. It is so unpopular that the word “died” is replaced with “passed away” to give it a softer edge when announcing the death of someone. When a patient dies in a hospital, medical professionals will voice that their patient has “expired” so that it will be easier to swallow. So “out of place” to us is death that we have to change the name of it just to deal with it in our own vocabulary.
Changing the name of it is like mixing a pill with ice cream so that it will be easier to swallow. Yet, no matter whether it is called “kicking the bucket” or some other lighter term, it still is very real. In reality, all of us are dying. All of us have encountered the death of a loved one and experienced the agony that goes with it.
Death is so terrible for us to swallow here on earth because of the perceived permanence of death. If a person is hurt but alive, we have hope that driving them to the hospital will help in healing their wound. If a relative has sickness, we have hope that they will return to health because they are still alive. Yet, in the area of death, it seems we can do nothing. They have passed beyond the seen realm of the material world to which we cannot go without dying ourselves. We can’t run to their rescue or assist. As a result, there is a helpless feeling that consumes us when a person we love passes through the door of death.
When someone dies, many will ask the lingering question of, “Why?”
Knowing it is “out of place,” we ask why is death even a thing? We taste of the good things of life such as a beautiful sunrise, the breeze on a hot summer day, the laughter of our children, the wedding of a young couple, and the many joys of this God-given life only to have to visit a funeral home where the lifeless body of a loved one awaits. Why is death even here?
Allow me to provide some biblical answers that God Himself has given us in His word over the next few weeks.
Physical death (as well as sorrow, pain, and suffering) was the ultimate result and punishment for sin of our ancestors, Adam and Eve.
In Genesis 3, when Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s clear command not to eat of the forbidden fruit, God immediately and grievingly announces the consequences of their choice. They were to be expelled from the perfect environment of bliss in Eden experiencing spiritual death (separation from God), pain in childbirth for Eve, and hard labor in acquiring food just for survival for Adam. God, as well, promised that man would live like this until ultimately, he would die. Sound familiar? We’re born, we work, have some good times, some bad, and then, we die. Certainly, seems out of place, doesn’t it?
Death was not part of the original plan of mankind. That’s how we can explain the sense of eternity we feel inside. Deep inside, we know that we were meant to live forever. That, of course, is why death seems out of place and causes so much grief for us. Something feels terribly wrong in the system about death because we know that we were meant to live forever.
Ultimately, death came into being as a result of man’s sin. Why is there death? Because of the original sin of our ancestors. It is still here because our ancestors passed it on as if a genetic disease.
I do have good news.
Jesus Christ defeated sin and death at the cross and through the resurrection. He set in motion a reversal of the curse through our redemption (reversal of spiritual death) and our resurrection (reversal of physical death). It's time to call upon Him. Only He can rescue us from death.
Stay tuned next week as we dig deeper into this concept.