I’ve been thinking a bit about death. Easter is fast approaching and I can’t help but consider Good Friday and the meaning of it all in the midst of these uncertain days.
I have a passing acquaintance with death. We first met in person while I was in college working at a gym and a patron collapsed on the indoor track. We performed CPR – I did the breaths – but he died. Aortic aneurysm.
We met again while I was in seminary and working at a children’s hospital as a chaplain. A beautiful two-year old with a bad heart and a beautiful soul. I did her funeral, my first, when her heart surgery failed. I still remember her name.
After that death and I ran into each other regularly in the large metropolitan hospital where I did my chaplaincy training: in the NICU, the ICU, the SICU, the ER…. seemed like most days, and most every single night, we’d meet. You’d think we were dating we saw each other so much. After a while, I started to think that everyone was in danger of dying which, of course, we are.
Ironically, I only began to really understand how God has death under His feet and all of us in the palm of His hand when a beloved neighborhood cat died in our backyard after we had befriended her. For the couple of days before we found her, my anxious prayers were met with a quiet but clear, “I’ve got her”. What a relief! So you can imagine my confusion when we discovered that a raccoon had gotten her too. But slowly I began to grasp what Jesus meant when He said that the Lord “is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!” Mark 12:27
Badly mistaken, indeed.
We have this mistaken notion that death is all powerful and undeniable and unavoidable and irreversible. But death is really an imposter, a thin veil that when pulled back reveals the very source of life itself: the eternal, unchanging God. Jesus tore this veil of death, this curtain, in two by His own death on the cross displaying death’s powerlessness over the One who is Life.
So in this season of anxiety, when death seems to be lurking all around, what do we have to fear? “When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you.”
1 Corinthians 15:54-58b
Beloved, let nothing move you. God has this. God has you.