Long ago when I was a college admissions officer, I interviewed a student who proudly told me she wrote poetry. When I invited her to recite one of her poems for me, she responded with a verse about death which ended, “And when you are dead, you are stone cold dead.”
Recently, a friend of ours for many years lost her mother at age 91. As followers of Christ, both our friend and her mother met the angel of death with stout hearts, believing in Jesus’ promise as recorded in the Gospel of John:
“I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”
Both our friend and her mother were convinced that beyond this life there lies a heavenly kingdom and a life of beauty and peace and love; a life of reunion with loved ones; a life without sorrow, tears or pain; a life to be lived in the presence of God.
When she lived among us, our friend’s mother was surrounded by the wonders of God’s natural world which she loved and celebrated in poetry and song. Sadly, everything she admired and loved in this world is perishable. Now her eternal home is in a place where all life and everything beautiful is immortal.
How do people who have no faith in the promises of Jesus endure the experience of losing a loved one? Without hope and faith, the depth of despair must be overwhelming. For them, death is a cold space into which we are launched, and we are simply, “stone cold dead.”
Clearly, that’s not what our friend and her mother believed.