Hope in the face of death

Last night my wife flew back to Illinois to be with her family because her Grandma was put in hospice and the prognosis is not good.  Her Parkinson's seems to be catching up with her in a bad way.  Please pray for my wife's family and specifically for her grandmother. Unfortunately I have become much too familiar with death this past year.  I had never been to a funeral before this time last year and since then I have been to 3.  One for my grandpa, one for a 16 year old student from my youth group, and one for the wife of my pastor.  I am quickly learning that my feelings of invincibility are lies.  When I found out that Andrew, the 16 year old student, had died in a car crash I literally felt the breath leave my body.  I kept thinking, 'there is NO way this just happened.  He's 16!! How the heck is this possible!?'

When Andrew died I was one month in to my job here at Fellowship Bible Church, my first ever job in ministry, and I was face to face with death again just months after burying my grandpa.  Except this time it was a 16 year old kid with so much going for him.  The night that Andrew died students gathered at one of the local schools and it wasn't just students from our youth group, it was hundreds of students from the community.  He had such an impact on the people around him that his death sent a shock wave through the entire community that we live in.

When Lisa, my pastor's wife died just a few months after Andrew, I was angry. I had only known her for about 6 months but she was my Kansas mom.  She looked after me and my wife and took us under her wing, always making sure we were taken care of.  I couldn't believe that after moving half way across the country to become the youth pastor here at Fellowship Bible Church I would have to deal with this kind of pain.

But in thinking about all of this, including the current situation with my wife's grandma Becky, I cannot fathom how I, nor anybody else here, could have gotten through the last year without the hope we have in Jesus.  My grandpa that died was not a Christian and neither is my grandma.  When I saw my grandmother clinging to his casket, weeping uncontrollably I couldn't handle it.  I hadn't cried the whole time, but when I saw my grandma doing that, I started balling because I began to understand that to her he was gone forever.  She had no hope and reason to believe that he was in a better place.

Those who follow Jesus have the hope of eternity with God, where death has lost its sting and its power over us.  Christ defeated death on the cross so that we might be saved, and that is GREAT news.  That is why at Andrew's and Lisa's funerals their family members were able to stand and proclaim that, yes they were sad and mourning, but not without the hope that one day they will be reunited with their loved one in the presence of God Almighty.  Death has separated them for a time, but not for eternity.  My grandmother does not have that hope, and it eats me up.

It is my hope that the hope we have in Jesus will lead us to share the Gospel with those around us.  All around the world people are dying and the only cure to their true cause of death is salvation through Jesus.