For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Phil. 1:21
Death has touched most families in the past three years. Today, my family sits in this holy space.
Our entire family was on alert when my father-in-law appeared to be losing his battle with COVID; he lived.
While our eyes were on him, the invader cancer silently claimed territory in the body of his son. Only a few family members could make the 1,000-mile journey to say goodbye before cancer claimed victory and took his life.
But God. we’ve returned home from that last trip to claim Christ victor and to grieve the loss of a husband, dad, son, brother, friend, pastor, and, most definitely, a child of God.
Grief like pain demands an audience with God to understand — Why God? Why now? God doesn’t seem to be in the business of answering our whys. But Abba Daddy will sit in the space of the unknown and allow us to grieve, lash out at Him, question His kindness and plans, and continue to hold us and comfort us if we will allow Him. His invitation is intimacy with Him in the space where we have absolutely no control.
In this raw space, we find ourselves abundantly loved by our Creator, Savior, Abba Daddy. And we join the “cloud of witnesses” like Job, David, and the disciples, who were deeply loved and also suffered great loss.
For my brother-in-law Dave, to live was Christ and to die was gain. What does that look like for me practically? Maybe it means
- Earth is not my forever home. Jesus is.
- Surrender my fear of the unknown trusting my Creator.
- Pray fervently “Your Kingdom come on Earth as it is in Heaven.”
- Live in joy, peace, and love.
- Focus on things that last eternally.
- Be fully present in the season of life or death that God has me in.
Abba Daddy, death comes to us all unless You return first. It separates us from the ones we love. You know that so well: our sin separates us from the One who loves us most. Teach us to “walk through the valley of the shadow of death fearing no evil” because our eyes are on Jesus, our trust is fully in You, and our hearts are set on eternity with You. Help us to live giving “praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3, 4).
Kathy Gallagher works with the Salvation Army of Wilson County Open Door Ministry. “Worship Wilson” is a weekly column written by clergy and people of faith in Wilson County.