9/11 · Church · death · God · Godfirst · heaven · hell · Jesus · Johannesburg · life · Sovereign

Death, where is your sting?

I’m not really one to procrastinate, but if ever there’s a time when it seems tempting, writing a post about death would be that time. Death is one of those topics we tend to bury our heads in the sand over. We like to pretend it’s not going to happen to us … or our friends or family … although we all know it is. It also seems to be something that has surrounded me lately, in everything from my own experience to my Facebook newsfeed, but maybe that was just God nudging me in this direction.

I would also just like to add that anything i write is not based on theological evidence,  or anything other than my own experience and understanding, so please feel free to comment if you think i’ve misunderstood something 🙂

A couple of days ago i was at my friend Chris’s funeral. I met Chris at church and he was very dedicated to his faith so, as heartbroken as we all were to know he’d moved on, we were celebrating the fact that he was at home with his loving Creator.

While i was staring at the beautiful flowers and candles, it struck me that the last time i was at a funeral was over two years ago … i was standing right in the front holding my sister’s hand, surrounded by family and friends as we all joined to celebrate the life of my wonderful mother who passed away from cancer.
A daughter losing her mother is quite different to a mother losing her son, but i immediately felt such a deep sense of compassion for Chris’s mom and the rest of the family that lined the front rows of the church.
Chris died unexpectedly. My mother had been sick for a couple of years, so her death was eventually anticipated… Neither is better.

The thing that we struggle with the most i think, is the timing, and whether or not we could have done anything to prevent it.
Over coffee with a friend the other day, she explained that she sometimes wonders if there’s any point in praying for God’s protection over loved ones if you can’t really do anything to stop it anyway. I proceeded to explain something to her, that God so lovingly showed me while He was preparing me (i believe) for the mourning that lay ahead…

It was the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in NYC and I was watching an interview with one of the survivors. His office was in one of the towers where he stood, on the phone, staring out the window. He saw a low flying plane getting bigger and bigger, until he realised it was about to crash into the building. In a moment of panic he crawled under his desk, and the next thing he knew he was covered in debris, choking on dust and smoke, and experiencing temporary deafness from a crash so loud that he couldn’t even hear himself screaming for help. He was later found by search and rescue, and learned that the wing of the aircraft (or what was left of it) rested a few meters above his head. He was alive, and it was a miracle.
I remember reading a story a while later, of a criminal who, centuries ago, escaped death row, only to die in a bar fight the next day. Human beings are actually so fragile, we can die from a coconut falling on our heads.
On a more serious note, occasionally people try to take their own lives. Sometimes they succeed, other times not. Sometimes people are healed from cancer, other times not… Why?
It all seems extraordinarily random, unless you believe in a sovereign God. In Acts 13:36 we read: “For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep…”
It is this verse, and this thought, that gives me such peace about the lives of my family and friends, and even myself.
If it is not your time to die, nothing will take you … not planes flying into your building, not sickness, nothing! And if it is your time to go home, nothing will keep you here! Cancer is ‘how’ my mom died, but it’s not ‘why’ she died.

It’s always hard saying goodbye. Even harder when you feel like you never got that chance, which is how i felt standing in that funeral service. But then, i remembered Heaven … I remembered the one who died, so that we don’t have to say goodbye at all.

Such comfort comes from knowing that the person you love so much is the absolute best they’ve ever been. They’re not suffering, they have no regrets, they don’t know a single ounce of negative emotion and no form of darkness or heaviness, AT ALL! They’re finally free, and happily home.
It makes missing them on earth all the more bearable.

We have hope for life after death, and for eternity in love. A hope that can be found in Christ alone!

 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (john 3:16)

If you, or anyone you know is curious about death, hell, or heaven. Our pastor, PJ Smyth at Godfirst City Church in Johannesburg, has just finished a series called Afterlife: Death; Hell; Heaven. I can highly recommend giving it a listen, or passing it on to anyone you know who would benefit from it! Personally i found ‘Heaven’ a life changing sermon!

You can find the video here: http://citygodfirst.co.za/sermon/after-life-part-1/

Jo x


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