This year, more than any in recent history, we’ve been confronted by the mortality of man on a global scale. It has been emotionally exhausting at times getting daily updates of how many lives were lost the day before; and yet it has forced many of us to reflect on death and eternity. A few weeks ago the much-loved and respected apologist Ravi Zacharias passed away.
During the months leading to Ravi’s passing, a social media campaign #ThankyouRavi gained momentum, as people shared their appreciation for Ravi’s ministry, dedication to defending the Gospel and discipiling others to do the same. I could understand the sentiment, but I felt like people were already saying goodbye to Ravi (he was still with us) and it made me feel uncomfortable.
Death makes all of us feel uncomfortable. The last few months of the Covid-19 outbreak have confirmed the tragedy associated with death. There were times during these past weeks where it felt unending, but as lock down restrictions are beginning to lift, here we are coming out on the other side in Jesus name.
Whenever I read through the book of Acts and the Gospels, my heart sinks everytime I read about disciples being martyred. No matter how many times I read through the Gospels, there is always a minute part of me desperate for Pilate to reject the Jews unlawful and unjust sentencing of Jesus to death. Within myself I murmur Pilate stand your ground don’t let them do this, their making a mistake, He is the King of the Jews. But the reality is regardless of how “nice” or “noble” my internal petitions may sound, it would mean no crucifixion, no resurrection and that would mean no salvation for us today. Jesus Christ had to die.
In Sarah Davis’ tribute to her father Ravi Zacharias on the RZIM website Sarah said something that really made me stop and think.
“My father is more alive than ever before”
I had to ponder on this statement for a while. Then suddenly I started to grasp what the Apostle Paul was saying in 1 Corinthians 15:55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
Sarah’s loving tribute to her father reminded me of the ultimate hope of every follower of Christ. As Paul rightly points out in 1 Corinthians 15:19 the Christian’s hope is not to live forever on this earth. We are not pursuing immortality in a finite world. But instead our hope is to fulfil God’s call for our lives here on earth, and ultimately inherit eternal life with Him in heaven.
Sometimes I wrestle with difficult questions when someone dies, whether they’re high-profile or not. “Why God, why did You allow this person to die? What about those left behind? Couldn’t You have spared their life?” I’ve never received a direct response to these questions. But when my grief becomes to heavy to bear , and drives me to the presence Of God – then I see Jesus and I’m comforted. I’m reminded that death is not the end, nor is it tragic for the believer. Because what awaits us is incomparable to what we see now. 1 Corinthian 13:12
I’m not trying to trivialise death. It is devastating. Death is horrible, especially if preceded by suffering, sickness or injustice. Even now there are many mourning loved ones lost during the outbreak, and they deserve to be comforted and supported through their grief. But let’s also remember that death is not the end, and for every believer in Jesus Christ – life, abundant – indescribable in comparison to the standards of this world, is only just beginning.
So here is a challenging thought, perhaps this taboo topic of death, may be a path way into a discussion about life, eternity, salvation and God’s redeeming love. This also is Good News.
Lord we bring before you every person heart broken and grieved by the loss of a loved one. We bring before you Lord every person who feels the loss is unbearable. We pray that You minister Your peace to every heart, we ask You to carry them in their weariness, and envelop them with your presence, to comfort and renew them in Jesus name amen.