Just this very week, my small-town community has been impacted by a travesty that has spun a web of sorrow with heartbreak and pain that has entrapped us all. The streets feel different. The breeze is nonexistent. The shock is deafening and hearts and minds have become numb.
This week we will helplessly watch while a family grieves the loss of a father and son that will never return. A town that mourns the death of family are left to cope with what’s next and questions of why and how. Death robs us of people who are loved and cherished and can easily send us into a spiral of defeat and fear if we don’t know the truth. The only truth that can comfort. The only truth that can make sense of the reality that a father and son are gone too soon.
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. Hebrews 2:14-15
You see, hours before the tragic news whispered through our community, life seemed normal. Now I’m not saying there wasn’t sin and bad habits and pain but the dance between good and evil and rebellion and holiness was on track as we know it, as we were comfortable with. And then, death. Death too close to home had struck. And what happened next for many? Fear. The fear of death. So much so, I couldn’t even leave the house for fear that I was next.
Not only do those still remaining in this world have to grieve the loss of love in the flesh and blood but there’s the risk of fear itself choking the very life that remains. It all becomes too much and somehow Satan appears to have won. But sweet friends, that could not be farther from the truth.
As Christians, we have the choice to find comfort in the promises and truth that have been provided or not. It’s tough some days. Really tough. I can imagine especially hard when your very eyes have to stare at the holes in the ground that what feels like your very own heartbeat will be buried in. But beloved, we have too. It’s the only way we will make it through the rest of our days here on earth. Believing the God-given truth.
Grieving and mourning and pain and sorrow are necessary. In fact, never miss that Jesus himself wept with a deep pain when his beloved friend Lazarus died. It has to be a part of all this. God isn’t mad at you. It doesn’t reflect that your faith is shallow and that your heart is incapable of healing. It just means that pain is pain and loss is loss. It means that death provides the opportunity to lean into Jesus a little more and receive the comfort that only He can provide. It just means that the days that seem impossible to breathe are days that you can throw your hands up and plead for help from a Good Daddy. It means that endless tears and the breaking heart are exactly where Jesus can provide healing. So go ahead and mourn. Solomon reminded us…
It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man, the living should take this to heart. Ecclesiastes 7:2
Here in the scripture, Solomon is writing to tell us that we have to face the truth of death. We all will die and it needs to be a reminder that we still have time to change our lives, shift our directions, and for goodness sake, repent and confess our sinful hearts in order to receive the sweet forgiveness of Christ.
Death has been defeated. Everyone will pass but death is not the end for those who have been saved by the blood of Christ. Death becomes the doorway into a new life that honestly, we should be envious of. A life free of pain and sorrow. No more tears and no more heartbreak. Glory, such glory. An eternity with Jesus himself. How sweet to know that the very next thing that our saved family and friends see when they die is the face of Jesus. Beloved, will you choose to find comfort in that? Will you choose to find comfort that the Holy Spirit will strengthen you to carry out the rest of your days until you will be in the promised land too?
We have this hope, as an anchor for our soul and strength because death has lost its sting. Jesus came to this earth, lived a sinless, perfect life and was crucified on a cross in our place to justify our sins. To pay our debt. To make a way to have a relationship with the Father again and to have our eternity set in stone as Christians. That is hope. That is grace and mercy. And that is why we can rejoice when loved ones pass before us because we will be with them once again. Death has been defeated with the resurrection of Christ.
He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. Romans 4:25
Today, will you take care of the business of your heart and soul and allow the tragic deaths that we have to encounter remind us that it’s not too late to change? That there is still hope to be had here on this earth and that it will only be found in Jesus Christ? Friends, I beg you. If you aren’t saved, the simple gospel is for you too. Will you make that decision to surrender your life so that you can fully understand the love of Christ and have the eternal hope of everlasting life? And if you you are a believer and there’s unsettled business in your life, will your make it right? Will your mourning of those gone too soon remind you to spend the rest of your days in right standing with God in all the areas of your life? Make the choice today. Believe the truth.
Will you join me in praying for my community and specifically the family of the father and son that are at the feet of Jesus today? Will you pray that the supernatural strength of Christ and the comfort of our Heavenly Father will carry them through this dark time? Chris and Cody Gragg were dearly loved by many and have helped to shape our community into the very place that it is. Their death was tragic and unexpected as they were involved in a fatal accident. We will continue to believe that God is good.