The reality of death is a confrontational foe - or in some cases a friend - that never ceases to knock on the door of our human consciousness. Its looming presence is kept at bay for much of our life until we are given windows into the eternal while attending a funeral service or possibly when receiving an ominous doctor’s report. There is only one weapon we can use when coming face to face with mankind’s greatest enemy—faith.
Paul exhorted the church at Corinth to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7) in relation to life in time and space as well as our eternal state. With the loss of a close loved one, sight and feelings are more often than not our dominant means of perception. We know how we are supposed to think, it’s just that our feelings and our thinking are out of sync.
Probably the most referred to chapter in the Bible on the subject of faith is found in Hebrews Chapter 11. The chapter starts like this:(1) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (2) For by it the elders obtained a good report. (3) Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. (Hebrews 11:1-3)
This chapter speaks much about death. These “heroes of faith” all died without the promise they looked forward to throughout their lives. The promise was Jesus Christ living in the hearts of the believer and His kingdom reign on earth. Faith is needed in death more than any other time in life - not for those who have died, but for us - those left behind. Those of us trying to make sense as we swim in the abyss of grief and loss. Let’s look at faith’s relationship with death.
Faith faces death squarely in the face. A famous quote says, “Where there is life there is hope.” We can say by faith, “Where there is death, there is hope.” The believer sees death for what it is - the passing of one life directly into the next. There is no cessation of life, simply a transformation of life. We understand that when we or our loved one passes, life does not cease; it transforms into a larger, far greater existence. Faith always sees a bigger picture in the death of one of God’s saints.
Faith takes death seriously. Though we are Christians, we are still human. God wired us to love and to grieve. Faith allows us to be humans; it is ok to experience and express grief. It does not reveal a lack of faith; it reveals just the opposite. It reveals one who is comfortable with who God has created them to be, and how he has created them to be. The person of faith embraces the fact that the loss of those close to us will forever alter the landscape of our lives. Yet, though the loss is great and the grief is real, God still has a plan and purpose for our life in the here and now. There is also an understanding that God’s plan on earth for the deceased has be fulfilled and completed also. The man or woman of faith knows that in the big picture of God’s eternal scheme, this loss has a purpose attached to it. Thus death, though not welcome, can be accepted.