That You Sorrow Not, As Others Who Have No Hope
By Jack Kinsella
Yesterday, Hal called to inform me of the death of a colleague, whom we lovingly had nicknamed ‘the minor prophet, Joel’.
Joel was a wonderful spirit of a man, whose own life was wracked with pain as a consequence of living for many years with diabetes.
I will miss him greatly, but I know he eagerly anticipated meeting the Lord face-to-face and he embraced his final moments without fear.
I am comforted in knowing Joel is, at this moment, in the loving Arms of his Savior.
At the same time I heard the news about Joel, another of my old colleagues was undergoing brain surgery to remove a fist-size tumor from his brain.
As I sat in my garage, (don’t know how or why, but it has become my ‘quiet place’) absorbing the news about Joel, Gayle came to relay the message that Wylie had survived surgery, and was doing remarkably well, something I credit entirely to our prayers and God’s faithfulness.
(Not to diminish the skill of the surgeons, but we PRAYED for skillful surgeons)
I hate death. I mean, it hate it with a personal hatred. I hate the concept of it. The idea of all that a person is, all that he knows and can contribute, being lost to the world forever, well, that’s a heavy thought.
Death steals that repository of knowledge, wisdom and goodness that exists in those we love away from us. Death leaves only a memory and an empty hole that no other person can ever completely fill. That is why we pray that death might pass our loved ones by.
When God grants our prayers, as He did in Wylie’s case, it is to demonstrate His love for us and His power over death, but I suspect He does so reluctantly, since He understands what we are asking of Him. (We’ve never seen what we are praying somebody OUT of.)
The words that Paul recorded in 2nd Thessalonians 4:13 came to mind: “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.”
Although I HATE death, I don’t fear it.
I hate what it does to the families of those left behind, and I hate the sense of loss that never goes away. But I don’t fear it for myself, neither do I feel sorry for those who meet death secure in the knowledge that to be ‘absent from the body’ is ‘to be present with the Lord’. (2nd Corinthians 5:8)
I realized that when I heard the news about Joel, knowing the suffering he was in, and certain that he was safe in the arms of Jesus, I felt more joy and relief than I did sorrow. I was only sorry for myself, and for Joel’s family and friends who will miss him, but not for Joel.
And when I heard that Wylie had pulled through surgery, I was relieved for Renea and for the kids, for myself, and for Wylie’s friends, but not really as much for Wylie himself. After all, he had already gone through the hard part.
Now, someday, he’ll have to do it again. (While I don’t fear BEING dead, I confess to being apprehensive about how I am going to GET that way.)
I remember how I looked at death before I came to Christ. I feared it. I didn’t hate it for its destructive nature, or how it would affect my own loved ones; I feared it for myself. Most people I know who don’t know Christ fear death that same way.
It occurred to me how irrational that actually is. If there is no God, then death would be merely a ceasing of existence, with nothing to fear.
But, if Christianity is true, then those who do not believe SHOULD fear death, since the fate of believers and non-believers is quite different.
But unbelievers fear death while denying God’s existence, whereas for saved believers, death is the beginning of an eternal existence in the presence of God.
The fear of death is the evidence of the existence of God. All spiritual creatures recognize that their spirits are eternal and that they will go through judgment of God, based upon their adherence to the laws of God. The Bible says that knowledge of God’s existence and the eternal nature of the human spirit has been revealed to all people.
“He hath made every thing beautiful in His time: also He hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.” (Ecclesiates 3:11)
Other versions translate this verse; “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
Human beings know instinctively that there is an eternal element to their existence, whether they attempt to rationalize it away or not. The proof is in the irrational way unbelievers fear death.
“For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:” (Romans 1:20)