On Saturday night, an eighteen year-old man in my home school community died in a tragic car accident. Another one of my close friends was severely injured in the same accident and airlifted to another state where she was classified as in critical condition. As I write this, she is still in the ICU.
As the Mat Kearney song goes, “I guess we’re all one phone call from our knees.” This is so true. Death or injuries can snatch people at any moment. I can’t claim to have been particularly close with Larry, but I know his sisters and his mother and near all of his friends. On that fateful night and the days following, I’ve watched the entire community grieve, and wrap their arms around his surviving family members, as we all try to come to grips with the reality that he is gone.
And yet, hope remains.
In every Facebook status, in ever text, and in every verbal word, hope has never left. Fear is being pressed back from taking over. Not once have I seen total despair overwhelm someone. For we know the truth.
For this perishable body must put on the imperishable,
and this mortal body must put on immortality.
When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality,
then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
– 1 Cor. 15:53-55
We shall one day soon, sooner than it appears at this moment, be with Larry again. Death just a temporary condition. It’s a brief separation, just a blink of the eye. Even if it feels like a very long blink.
For those of us who are in Christ, as Larry was, death has no real victory. Jesus defeated death at death’s own game when He can to our dirty soil and gave His precious life.
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. – 1 Thess. 4:12-17
Though my heart is full of sadness over the life that was ripped away far to soon, and full of anxious prayer for my friend Ash as she recovers in the hospital, I also rejoice that Larry is present with the Lord. “For to me is Christ but to die is gain.” – Phil. 1:21 And I rejoice that the life of sweet Ashley has been spared.
Though we grieve, it is not without hope. For the lives of Christians have been redeemed. Our flesh is mortal, but our souls, the part that really counts, are forever alive.