It’s seems strange to do ordinary daily tasks after you’ve gotten the news that a friend has died unexpectedly. The sudden shocking event leaves a hollow ache like a punch to the gut. The more days that pass, the more you recognize just how many things are now forever altered. But even so, it’s easy to find yourself returning to the safety of the routine.
Load the dishwasher. Take out the trash. Answer a few emails.
Maybe it’s only an attempt to numb the cold finality of death… as if putting another load of laundry in the washing machine will force things to go on as they once were.
However, instead of rejoining the cadence of the mundane so quickly, maybe it’d be better to sit for a while… to absorb the weight of the passing of a life… to remind ourselves of the fleeting nature of our current existence and of the urgency of the gospel message. My friend knew Jesus as companion, and so this end gratefully is not the end. The steadfast hope for us as believers in Jesus is that death is only a doorway to unending pain-free, tear-free life in the presence of God.
But it isn’t that way for everyone. Countless people meet their end every day, and without Christ, face an eternity of pain, suffering and separation. Jesus gives us a clear description of what awaits those who reject His offer of salvation. In Luke chapter 16, we learn that hell is not a place where people will go to live it up in unhindered wild lifestyles as many people joke. There won’t be parties, laughter or music. And it isn’t a place where a person will embrace the company of friends and companions. In Jesus’s story, the rich man wasn’t living it up in anticipation of his brothers joining him in Hades. Instead, his desperate plea was for his family to not join him. (vs 27-28) That’s because he was and would forevermore be residing in a place of conscious pain, isolation and woeful remembrance. That’s the guaranteed destination for all those who choose to reject the help of the ready rescuer, Jesus Christ.
So maybe the best way to honor my friend’s life (and the sudden departure of others like him) isn’t to seek personal comfort in the normal routine, but to let it be a wake-up reminder of the ever-present reality of eternity, and a motivator that pushes us to encourage others to believe the promises of Jesus now. He triumphed over death, and through our belief in His work on the cross, continues to offer life with the Heavenly Father that extends beyond the grave. And when believers pass out of this earthly sojourn, we can be sure there’ll be nothing ordinary about life in eternity with Him!
I shall lose none of all those He has given Me,
but raise them up at the last day.