We are a culture that isolates itself from death as far as we can. The bodies no longer remain in the home before burial but are quickly moved to a funeral home. The bodies are buried in specially prepared cemeteries where only “bodies” can stay. The obituaries are on the back page of the newspaper and if you talk too much about death, or evil for that matter, you are seen as some kind of kook.
Consequently, most of us are not prepared for death even though it’s all around us. Nor do we completely understand the consequences of the fall of man, sin. Sure we know sin is something we should avoid but we don’t always comprehend experientially that death is the direct result of sin. That is, until death confronts us and then, at least for me, the full implications of sin hit me right between the eyes.
I was sitting in the small garden we had constructed as a monument to my recently departed son when it dawned on me the similarities between the garden, any garden, and life. The weeds in it seem to thrive, grow and prosper despite all my best efforts to eradicate them and without much help from anyone.
Such is life, evil seems to prosper and grow despite our best efforts to control it. And the greatest evil facing humanity is death itself and a fate we all must eventually encounter despite our best efforts to avoid it. Death is the great equalizer, the final enemy and although the Christ has annihilated it, the loneliness and sadness of the separation caused by it are still very real and very painful. And knowing that your loved one was a believer and therefore will spend eternity with you, does little to remove the painful sting of loneliness and just plain missing them. It’s like a blanket that covers everything you do and every thought you have. It’s always there, present, staring you in the face, haunting you. Always, the thought in the back of your mind is, life will never be the same and, unfortunately, it won’t. It’s like losing a limb, you learn to live and do things with 3 limbs instead of 4 but you’re never quite the same. You learn to live differently, to make adjustments but that former sense of wholeness is forever gone.
I’ve read the book of Job a number of times in my life when things were going particularly bad and I used to take some comfort, feel some sense of fairness, knowing Job’s life was restored at the end. But now I understand, all too painfully, that his new family can never replace the one he lost. It’s not like replacing a pair of shoes where you go out and buy a new pair and all is good. Job’s children could never be replaced and to think it was all because God wanted to make a point with satan. A wager if you would.
The story, I think, raises more questions than it answers but regardless Job’s children are gone forever from planet earth. But how could I have missed that crucial point during all the time I spent studying the story? That is, until I lost a child myself. There’s no such thing as replacing a child. And in Job’s situation to prove a point! The whys, what ifs and sense of unfairness of it can drive you mad until and unless you reach that point that you can say, God is sovereign and He can do whatever He pleases to glorify Himself. And that’s how it should be for the Creator of the universe and King of Kings and Lord of Lords. But, still, my loneliness and sadness remain for this is not a light bulb that goes on until you’ve wrestled through it with God Himself. And wrestle with God you must and not simply accept the death of a loved one on some theological basis without allowing yourself to feel the full gamut of emotions that result from your loss.
The story begins with a boy at the dike,
holding back tears with all of his might.
For feelings for many are hard to express,
we are taught that control is the way to be blessed.
So tears, joy and happiness are never displayed
be strong, don’t cry, perform is the way.
But living in neutral these long lonely years
has taught me the folly of the feelings I fear.
For life without feelings is like food without taste
you chew and you swallow but in the end it’s just waste.
It’s safe at the dam with your finger in place
but creativity, risk-taking, life get erased.
So please pull out the finger before its too late
for a life without feelings leads one to just hate
and flee from the dike while you still can,
for trading feelings for security leaves you stuck in the dam.
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