I first learned my son had been killed in the dark hours of morning.
I made phone calls.
I had to be certain there was no mistake in identifying the accident victim. I assured the officer on the other end of the phone I was not in denial, I was just confirming what I knew was true.
That was a lie-my ears heard it as true.
Some part of my brain was acting as if it were true.
And I was passing the information along as true, but it was not until I saw his body that my heart embraced as absolutely undeniable what I had been told.
He was gone, gone, gone. No coming back.
That’s when I knew: Death is awful.
It is hard to have patience with people who say, ‘There is no death’ or ‘Death doesn’t matter.’ There is death. And whatever is matters. And whatever happens has consequences, and it and they are irrevocable and irreversible. You might as well say that birth doesn’t matter. ~C.S.Lewis
Death was not part of God’s perfect plan for the people He made and the world He created.
But sin marred that perfection and we are left to walk this wounded world in bodies that, at best, wear out, and at worst, plunge headlong into darkness due to illness, accident or violence.
Where is the victory in this defeat?
Where is the happy ending to this sad chapter of life?
Victory is declared when I trust in Jehovah-Nissi-the LORD my Banner-to uproot the evil that the enemy seeks to sow into my life.
Victory is displayed in my surviving children who have chosen to lean in and labor on and love and laugh even while grieving the loss of their brother.
Victory is demonstrated when my marriage does not crumble under the heavy weight of sorrow, when my family is made stronger- not weaker-and when our story breathes courage into the hearts and lives of others facing devastating trials.
The ultimate and eternal victory lies in the finished work of Christ.
I need to emphasize, friends, that our natural, earthy lives don’t in themselves lead us by their very nature into the kingdom of God. Their very “nature” is to die, so how could they “naturally” end up in the Life kingdom?
But let me tell you something wonderful, a mystery I’ll probably never fully understand. We’re not all going to die—but we are all going to be changed. You hear a blast to end all blasts from a trumpet, and in the time that you look up and blink your eyes—it’s over. On signal from that trumpet from heaven, the dead will be up and out of their graves, beyond the reach of death, never to die again. At the same moment and in the same way, we’ll all be changed. In the resurrection scheme of things, this has to happen: everything perishable taken off the shelves and replaced by the imperishable, this mortal replaced by the immortal. Then the saying will come true:
Death swallowed by triumphant Life!
Who got the last word, oh, Death?
Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now?
It was sin that made death so frightening and law-code guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power. But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three—sin, guilt, death—are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God!
With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.
I Corinthians 15:50-58 MSG
Jesus has redeemed and restored what the enemy has stolen.
I will not enjoy the fullness of this victory until I embrace Dominic in heaven.
But I can live confidently in the promise that it has already been decided.
I can walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death without fear, because Jehovah-Nissi-the LORD my Banner (my Victory) is with me. (Psalm 23:4)
I am not alone.