“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 ESV).
There are some days, weeks, months, when I feel robbed of words, when my creativity comes to a pause, when I feel acutely and numbly at the same time.
A few weeks ago I had a week like that. It was a convergence of bad news.
My college roommate, who now lives in Cambodia, shared the news that his mother-in-law has been infected with HIV by a fake doctor.
My niece struggles with cerebral palsy. Her doctors discovered one of her hip sockets was more disjointed than is healthy. She will face as many as four surgeries in the next two years.
My sister is in Nicaragua hoping to start her own foster care and/or orphanage there. Her landlord showed himself as wildly inappropriate causing my sister and her new husband to terminate their lease and move in with my brother-in-law’s parents. His father just discovered that he has three tumors in his stomach.
My friend’s brother died in an accident.
I heard of each of these tragedies within the span of three days. The ability to speak or write or think begins to break down while the need to speak and write and think with clarity crescendo.
The HBO show, Six Feet Under, is about, judging by the pilot episode and the title, death. It’s raw and there is a high likelihood of inappropriate content, but a character on the show said something that struck me. During a burial service, one character remarked “I refuse to sanitize this.”
And I’m reminded once again of one of life’s most basic facts: death is bad.
Death is so bad that we constantly seek to avoid that reality, to sanitize death with pithy sayings that are utterly untrue.
And I think we sanitize death because we are so terribly afraid of despair. To disregard hope is despair. And it is wrong. To live in hope when so much goes wrong is one of the most difficult parts of life.
Where can I possibly go other than to one with the words of eternal life? Where can I go other than to the one who is the resurrection and the life? Where can I go other than to Jesus, who weeps and yells and cries and dies, who rises, returns, and reveals Himself as hope?
I think if we are honest, we will realize that Jesus doesn’t sanitize death. He doesn’t allow it to be pretty or a celebration or even okay. Jesus experiences death. And then He destroys its most forceful power by not remaining dead. Death’s grip is not eternal. Death is guaranteed to lose.
Death still claims us temporarily and it is the worst thing in this world. But take heart! We can live in hope because Christ has overcome the world, even its most powerful weapon: death. Thank you, Lord, for sending your Son to overcome the world, even death in His glorious resurrection!