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Friday, April 1, 2011

Death: The Healing Sleep

According to Patrick Mead, death has a rather easy statistic: one out of one dies. While he says this in a humorous context, it does not make this fact any easier to accept or deal with. And if you haven't noticed, a lot of people die all the time. In fact, everyone knows someone who has died, and I do not think this to be within the realm of hyperbole. For me, there are several deaths in my lifetime that stick out in particular.

     First was one of my dear friends whose name was Courtney. Born with heart problems, she endured surgery after surgery, no fewer than four open-heart surgery by the time of her sixteenth birthday.
     Second was my step-step-great-grandfather ("step-step" because he was my great-grandma's third husband), T.J. He was a really funny old man who had a deep love of baseball. He had a strange habit of telling the same stories over and over, along with the same lame jokes.
     Third was that man's wife, Ethel, my great-grandmother. She always had the same smell, a scent I wager I would recognize anywhere. Even when she stopped being able to remember our names, she gave us hugs and kisses as if she still thought we were hers.

These next three are slightly further from me, but I am still aware of them. My fiancée's grandmother, Luvera, passed away a few weeks ago; Nathan, a 22-month-old twin boy died this week; a young man, Nick, with whom I attended elementary school, was discovered dead in his apartment from a drug overdose.

These thoughts concerning death have been on my mind for some time now. Through all these losses, I am beginning to see a pattern. Very often I hear prayers for the sick, asking for healing. Sometimes they live, sometimes they don't. But what has appeared as a remarkable sign of the power of Christ is that, in either situation, they are healed.

"Wait, what? What do you mean they are healed? Some of them died!" Yes, that's true. But let's consider what they were, and what they became. My friend Courtney no longer has heart problems. My grandpa T.J. is in no more pain. My grandma Ethel will never forget another thing. Luvera is no longer on dialysis, while Nathan has been spared from ever seeing the scars of Sin. Nick has no addictions now.

One of the aspects of healing I think we often miss is that death, too, is a form of healing. When we pray, "Take away this illness," we often have selfish motives and silently add, "and let them stay with us." At times to pray for the removal of sickness is to request the removal of the possibility of sickness.

Parallel to this ejection from sickness is the expulsion of Death. Death has been conquered. The Christian hope of the resurrection has forever shattered the power of Death. We hope not for some heavenly, purely spiritual postmortem existence; we hope for new life, the kind of resurrection experience by the one we call Lord, the Christ.

As we all draw nearer to our own ends, let us not forget that blessed hope. Thankfully, Mead's statistic is not altogether true. One has risen, and so many shall rise.

Grace and peace.


  1. I usually put it this way in my prayers, "Lord, deliver to them and their families the healing of their bodies, whether from death for a time or through death into your time."

    And your last sentence--what about "Just as in Adam all died, so in Christ all will be made alive." Your eschatology needs widening. :)

  2. It's a good thing that using the Bible isn't considered cheating. ;) You provide a valid point. Your prayer is beautiful and well captures the essence of our hope. Thanks for the comment; you ought to leave some more! I could do with having to more reflecting on my reflections.