By Joel A. Hess –
Some time ago, it was not unusual for people to take photographs of their dead loved ones. It was as if they were still alive; age made no difference. There are even photos of families together, one of them being stone cold dead.
Isn’t it sad to make death look like life? Time and time again, we are told by the sages of the big screen that death is a normal part of life. To comfort Simba in The Lion King, the animals sang “The circle of life,” and millions of audience members went home singing it to their children and their children’s children.
I’ve heard parents explain death to their children in the same manner. I’ve had plenty of mourners ask me if they could say something like that in the eulogy of their loved one’s funeral.
What do you do with such an atrocious enemy? We have nothing in our arsenal to defeat death—not medicine, science, surgery, good planning, or healthy living. Instead, we naturalize and normalize it. It’s just like sin, which also has nothing to do with life. We let death have a guest room in our house, and we convince ourselves that the dark, brooding monster that eats our children is just part of the family. Get used to him. Put nice flowers around him. Make a cartoon of him.
This past week, former NFL player Todd Heap accidentally ran over his own child and killed her. Do you think telling him that death is just a part of life will comfort him? Or perhaps he would feel better if you convinced him that his child will become an oak tree. Hell no!
How about this one: “She’s not really dead if we find a way to remember her.” That’s what Jerry told George’s ex-fiance’s parents after their daughter died. He got that from Star Trek II. “It was a hell of thing when Spock died.” It was a hilarious episode. Sadly, people actually comfort others with this crap in real life! Memories do not comfort anyone if there is no hope for reunion; they just torture the living.
Death sucks. Death is not natural. Death has no place in anything remotely called life. How dare we give it a seat at the table, a place in the circle, or a speaker part at our funerals!
As I wrote a couple of years ago, even dogs know that death sucks as they saunter around clearly bothered by the absence of their master.
But there is good news in Jesus! By His death and resurrection, He paid the price for our sins, which is death. But more than that, He killed death. It’s safe to die now because we will rise again.
We don’t need to dress up death and pretend that it’s normal. We can call it like it is! We can kick it out of the house. We can stomp on with our living feet. Death has been conquered! And while it harasses us now, one day we will dwell in a world where it will no longer exist.
Death is as good as dead. Christ is risen, and you will rise too!