I lost my grandfather to prostate cancer almost 5 years ago. I remember seeing him in his bed and remembering his groans of pain at night when he had to use the restroom and his cries for the pain to go away. It was so saddening and all I could do was just watch. I read him Scripture while he lied there and he constantly asked me if he was going to Heaven. I would pat his head and said that he was as long as Jesus was inside. I remember watching him sleep and praying, "God! Please take him already! Please!" He was in so much pain and turmoil and I couldn't bare it anymore. I wanted death to come. I wanted sweet death to take him! It did a couple of days later. All of us sighed a sigh of relief. I even felt a little guilty for praying for his death. I felt guilty for having a sense of happiness that he wasn't hurting anymore.
When we see a love one in chronic pain we sometimes may wish for death to come. If you have ever had a moment when life was at its darkest and all was hopeless, how many of us prayed for death to come and take us. (Thankfully God didn't answer THAT prayer!) When pain, hopelessness, trials or tribulations overtake us, we see death as a savior. A savior that will transport us from this world to the next. But last night as I read two different books. Two things stood out to me.
First, in Song of Solomon, Shulamith says: "for love is as strong as death, passion fierce as the grave". Those are pretty intense words from her. Death will happen to us all, but does love? The grave takes everyone into her shawdowy arms and embraces and never lets go.
The second thing that I read was from a book written by Ken Ham called "The Lie - Evolution" in it, he calls death a gift from God. At first I thought he was going to talk about death freeing us from pain, but he added upon that. With physical death, God provided a way for us to go back to Him.
How many movies have we seen were the immortal vampire speak of their immortality as a burden, because of having to say goodbye to all their loved ones and having to see so many wars, death and the inhumanities done by man. In the new Clash of the Titans, Perseus' guide Io says she was "cursed with immortality". Perseus scoffs at her a bit and she reminds him of the pain he felt after losing his family. He gets her point.
Ken Ham does exceptionally well in saying that God in his eternal love for us didn't want us to be separated from Him eternally. Sin and God cannot coexist. That is why our flesh will not make it to Heaven, so God gave us the gift of death so we can one day leave this broken world and be reunited with our Lord, perfect and without blemish. And we will see those we love up there. Another gift that God has given us.
Only with death do we learn to love life. Only with death do we have a hope that all will be made better. Only with death, was Jesus able to provide salvation. Only with death, will we see our Creator face to face.
With Christians, death is not a taker, but a giver of so much more that we will either be dumbfounded or will not help ourselves but to praise Him incessantly. The primitive church saw death as the happiest occasion for a Christian. Thus their funerals were filled with cries of joy and even a bit of envy that their fellow Christian was now with the Lord. Can you imagine a pep-rally at a funeral?
At the end "death" will be conquered forever by our Lord Jesus Christ but until then, it is all we have as a catalyst to leave this world and enter the arms of our Savior. Now that's an embrace I don't mind!