Real grief. Mourning. We have probably all experienced it. Maybe, at this moment, you are smack in the middle of your deepest valley crying out in your grief. Maybe you know the inevitable is getting ready to happen. Your next few days may involve funeral homes and fake smiles as you try to hold it together while shaking hands with countless people you hardly know.
This past week I painted a pet portrait for a lady who was going to be losing her dog. I have done several custom portraits since opening my shop this year. They have all portrayed a dear pet that is now only a memory.
I know what it is like to lose a pet. The tears are real. The loss is real. Oftentimes, people grieve their pets as they would a loved one…because, well, our pets become loved ones don’t they?
I adore my feathered and furry pals. I dread the day when I have to let them go. But as much of an animal lover as I am, there is nothing like letting go of a human. We all know this reality. It rips our hearts so viciously that we think we will never go back to “normal”. It reminds us that these years we live on earth are fading fast and even faster for some. It reminds us of the fact that mountaintop highs will eventually give way to deep valley lows.
Hurt, pain, fear, anxiety, disease, evil,…I will thoroughly enjoy living eternity without these.
Why does death bring about such heart ache for the living? One reason holds true. Death was never meant to be a part of life. Period. Death stings because it was not intended; at least not in the original plan.
God created mankind in the garden with a purpose of spending eternity together. The beating heart he placed in the chest cavity was never supposed to cease its rhythm. The lungs that hold and release oxygen were supposed to forever expand and contract. Those bones, those nerve endings, and those ear drums were originally made to last alongside the everlasting Creator.
You know the story. Once sin entered the picture the “curse” immediately began to taint the perfection that once was. Suddenly, concepts such as lifespans and graveyards entered the scene. Birth pains, “sweat of the brow”, sickness, and worry weaved through the atmosphere like a silent stream of smoke.
There was one thing the curse could not kill. The soul…oh, the soul. It is the one part of us that is going to last. When our hearts stop beating, the soul will live on. This shell of flesh will, one day, no longer contain the real part of us that will spend eternity living…at least for those who know Christ. (Let me reiterate…ONLY for those who know Jesus Christ as Savior and follow him wholeheartedly!)
Like a suspense novel, the dramatic scene of Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit unfolds. If it were a movie, we would be screaming at the screen for them to stop! If we were reading it or watching it for the first time, we would have to pause and just take it all in. The once happy emotions we had as they walked with God in the garden in the cool of the day… We longed to walk with him in this perfection too. Then…out of nowhere, we gasp as this perfection disappears.
As shocking as it may be for us to read and as horrified as Adam and Eve must have been immediately following, none of this caught the Father off guard. Go back to Genesis 1:26. “Then God said, ‘Let US make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’”
Us? Was God summoning the wild animals he just called into existence? Was he asking the fish to help him develop the final and ultimate creature? Although comical to imagine, the answer is “of course not!”
Jesus, the Savior, the Word, the One who is, was, and will forever be. God, in his omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent way, had the escape clause ready to go before man was even given life.
No one can dispute Him. No religion can explain Him away. No disbelief can erase the Great I Am who is Father, Son, and Spirit. “Let us make man in our image…” Jesus Christ, He, who would defeat death, defeat sin, and pave the narrow path to eternal life…He has always been and will always be. Death bows to Him and glorious eternity is made possible through Him.
Your grief. Your worry. Your situation that leaves you wondering if you will survive the unknown result. Don’t you know that if God can save mankind before mankind even exists then he will surely bring you through your valley? He surely has an agenda for your experience. A way out, an escape, a purpose to stay, a plan to “get you through it”. Why would we doubt him?
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”- 1 Corinthians 15:55-57