Embezzled Comfort

By Cindy Koch

Wherever you look you will find me there
In the heart of a rose, In the heart of a prayer
On butterflies’ wings, on wings of my own,
To you I’m gone, but I’m never alone –
I am home.”

Death is a terrifying enemy. We all know that. Most of our lives we fortify ourselves against such an evil intruder. Avoid the places where we might meet him. Dread the conversations that would mention his name. But he always seems to find us, one way or another. And you’d think we should be better at this confrontation with death. But when he comes around, when he touches our friends, our family, our own hearts, we say the silliest things.

It makes sense, I suppose, that our tongue is left tied up and useless in the presence of such darkness. Dealing with our own anger, sadness, and loss, carefully chosen words are not naturally at the top of our list. So inevitably we can’t help but devise poems and phrases that seem like they should bring comfort to those who hear. We may mumble about hearts in roses and butterfly wings, mashing every sweet non-threatening word into a preschool age prophesy, hoping to soothe the ancient wound of death.

But it makes no sense at all that our words would plunder the verified comfort of a conqueror. If there was one who met death face to face, destroyed all of his power, and then gave you the victorious hymn of praise to shout, you wouldn’t muse about butterflies. If there was one who gave himself up to the grave, rose up to a new life never to die again, and promised you would follow his resurrection on the last day, you wouldn’t constantly search for departed souls in the trees. There is a word of hope and comfort that comes from the Lord of heaven and earth. There is a word of assurance that is spoken from the lips of one who is victorious over death. Listen to him.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world” (John 11:25-27).

Rather than stumble over the insignificant words created in our fearful hearts, instead of misappropriating hope in awkward lyric, resound the word spoken by Jesus Christ. His word has already battled in the depths of hell. His word has already slaughtered the destruction of death. His word simply says, “everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” By his Word, death need not terrify anymore.