Last week the community of Blackville, NB buried three teenage boys who died in a car accident. A year earlier, they cried together over the loss of a teenage girl, who, along with her father, died on the Miramichi River in a rafting accident. Prior to that, they gathered to mourn the passing of a teenage boy killed in an ATV accident. In a world where millions die each day, to many, these five deaths do not seem noteworthy, but in a community where everyone knows everyone, death, especially that of youngsters, hits hard.
When Jesus witnessed those mourning for the death of His friend Lazarus, scripture records, “He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled” (John 11:33 NIV). The original Greek text uses words to imply Jesus was outraged with Himself. He was upset upon seeing the impact that sin and death have on the world. He felt outraged, but it was replaced with raw grief as He wept. Even though He would raise Lazarus, He did not emotionally detach himself from this awful reality. However, unlike many who see death as the end of life and the beginning of nothing, Jesus did not despair, and neither should we.
Paul writes, “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.” (I Thessalonians 4:13). We must not be terrified like those who cannot see beyond the grave.
We were all shocked by the news of these deaths because we assume they had many more years of life to live. Scripture shares that life is uncertain and fleeting. James writes, “Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money. Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:13-15 NIV).
We must trust in the truth that Jesus has triumphed over death, but that does not mean we must pretend that death isn’t awful. When loved ones die, we are angry at the unfairness of death. But we can weep knowing that our Saviour wept the same tears. These deaths remind us that we dare not presume on the future. We have only the present moment to serve God and our neighbours. While we may still grieve, we must not be despondent because the life of our Saviour is in us, and we look forward to a day when the last enemy of the world is destroyed.
Pray for the community of Blackville, NB.