Death affects us all so differently. I’d even go so far as to say death can effect the same person in a totally different way at separate times in their life. Death can paralyze us. It can make us run towards something or can spin you around so much you don’t realize you’re in the opposite direction until you’re lost in a forest of trees so tall you can barely see the sky.
No matter what, death marks our life. If you’ve experienced loss of a cherished one, you know you can’t think of their death without celebrating their life. If they were older, you tend to recall sweet memories made. If they were young, you can’t help but think of what their life would look like now…how your life would be different if they were still here.
I visited our youngest daughter, Selah’s, grave this week. She was stillborn at 34 weeks this past August. I’ve never gone back to visit the grave of a loved one…not even my mom and it has been over 10 years. I realize not everyone feels this way, but having the physical marker of someone’s life only reminds me of their death. Also, cemeteries make me feel awkward. Should you whisper if you need to talk? Are sarcastic comments allowed? Or maybe just a well timed pun? Which part of the grass is OK to walk on? I know a lot of people find it so healing and honoring of the deceased to care for their grave. I’m all for everyone grieving in their own way. It’s important.
I can’t explain why it was important for me to see her life marker on the very day set aside to remember the willing sacrifice and death of Jesus. I think I was looking for something. His tomb and grave have more of a sting this Easter. It’s all I could focus on as I read the events leading up to Jesus’ death. How did his beloved followers feel when he was laid to rest…Abandoned? Confused? Hurt? Angry? Gut-wrenching despair? I know I’ve felt those things in the last 7 months. Did those few days of silence feel like a deafening eternity? Did they even sleep? Did they have hope of what was coming?
I didn’t receive some big revelation from God or sense of closure after visiting the cemetery that day. Instead, I left the same…sad, but not stagnant. I was gently reminded of something I’ve known all along….HOPE.
Translated from the Hebrew in scripture, hope, refers to an expectation or longing. It does NOT mean probably or maybe. Having hope in Christ is not the idea that maybe this will all work out. It’s expecting it to because of the character and person of Jesus. It is why He had to die. It was the plan all along. Taking on all our shame, fear, hurt, anger, guilt, loneliness…the list goes on….was the only way we could experience true freedom.
Dealing with death is not about ‘getting over it’ or ‘moving on’. It’s about continuing.
Yes, I am happy because His death and resurrection allow me to one day hold my baby girl again or to introduce my mom to my sweet daughters…but it’s so much more! Because the person of Jesus chose to fulfill the Father’s plan by sacrificing himself, taking on all my junk, and beating death by rising again…
I am able to have hope in His life.
Hope that does not disappoint.
Expectation for today, tomorrow, and 1,000 tomorrows.
We don’t have to walk around dead.
We can live. Dream. Continue. Because He lives.