We do a lot of dancing around this. If only we could take the words to heart.

Death ain’t easy. Although it and taxes are the only certainties here on earth I’d rather be audited every tax season than die even once. I know, I know, as a Christian I’m taught that the guy with the rainbow afro and the sign at NFL games speaks the truth (John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.) But there’s just this whole finality of the darn thing. If only I could feel comforted about what’s on the other side.

Matthew 5:4 says “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” And I usually am comforted in a way, after a while but then mourning and grief sneak back up on me and on a random Tuesday in traffic I’m awash with sadness that my friend or my loved one isn’t here with me anymore. I know I’m not supposed to bemoan their passing but celebrate what they left in me and with me but they’re not here and it turns out I’m a real here kind of guy. It’s those times that I need the 23rd Psalm. You probably know it, it’s a real standby: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” It turns out there’s a whole caretaker, shepherd thing about us and God in the bible.

I’m from the farm and the only sheep I ever knew were mean and butted me when I was little so I don’t identify as being one all that much. But maybe because I’m none too bright (like a sheep, sorry sheep fans) I need someone looking out for me especially when it comes to big, scary stuff like death. John 10:27-29 says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” Being kept and safe that way during the tough times is a good way to be. We need that assurance and the order that is a funeral gives us that from the secular side of things.

When we’re at our messiest and most vulnerable knowing how things are going to go and having some order in our chaos is comforting. Part of that is the funeral but when there’s no one there to say goodbye to, when the person isn’t physically there we can feel less closure; we can feel less comforted. We might even remember that the second and even more important part of the rainbow afro guy’s verse is verse 17 that says, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” But we’re still janky about death and the ending of things.

We want the physical, tangible thing to anchor our spiritual, intangible and at the time probably irrational feelings. We want it to go like they say it does in 1 Corinthians 15: 42-44. “It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.” I can understand and believe that both of these bodies exist but the last one takes something big to make me feel okay; faith.

As it so often goes, it gets down to faith. We don’t have something we can see and touch and experience and that’s what makes this step hard. I’m afraid I can’t write anything to make it easier. My only suggestion is to develop your relationship with your Father so that his words and the words of his Son can carry you into faith and death will know its own demise.

If the struggle bus had driver it would be death. I don’t know if the above helped you or not but I hope it did. If you know someone who could use some of the comfort the above offers, please share it with them.

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