Just last week, one of my high school classmates died unexpectedly. I’m getting to “that age” when more and more of my contemporaries are experiencing health issues– diabetes, heart problems, cancer, arthritis, even early-onset dementia– but this friend seemed to be in good health. She had just been celebrating the birth of a grandson, and other milestones. Death sometimes comes when (and to whom) we least expect it. It is shocking, saddening, and frightening all at once.
Death has an urgency that pushes other concerns away. Death is final; permanent. Death is powerful– we can’t cheat it, defeat it, or comprehend it. Death frightens us, angers us, and mystifies us. We begin to look at our own life and ask questions–Who am I?WHY am I? What makes me “me”– individual and uniquely different from everyone else? Is there a purpose to my being– to my being “me”, “here” and “now”? How can I find and fulfill that purpose if it exists? Do I have an eternal destiny after this life? If so, how can I know what it might be? Can I change that eternal destiny?
Some people argue that our origins are accidental; our uniqueness is merely a random generation of genetic code; our purpose non-existent or self-determined; and our destiny no more than dust. They avoid talking about death–and the meaning of life. They want to “live in the moment,” but they don’t want to ask any questions of the past or future. And they mock anyone who does. Many of them hear me or read what I write and dismiss me as intellectually lazy, gullible, or crazy. I’m all right with that, as long as they will be intellectually honest enough to admit to the questions; and open enough to acknowledge that there may be more than a quick denial as an answer. Crazy– well crazy is as crazy does, I guess…I’ll let my actions answer that one.
Death is powerful and mysterious, but I believe that God is more powerful, and omniscient– he has already crushed the power of death, and invites us to view death from a different perspective. When we take everything– including death– to the Lord in Prayer, he takes the weight of it, the fear of it, the pain of it off our shoulders and carries it to the cross. HIS death overshadows even our own, in its power to overcome. The urgency of death is not that it is the end of all things. The urgency of death is that it signals the end of our opportunity to recognize and live out the purpose of this short life.
If that isn’t an urgent reason to pray for those you love, I don’t know of a better one…
It’s also an urgent reason to pray for those around you who are grieving the recent loss of a loved one. And don’t just be someone who prays..be an answer to prayer– reach out with a card, a note or e-mail, or spend some time with them. Let them know that a) their loved one is not forgotten, and b) neither are they!