Does Death Have The Final Word?

Chapter 12 – Life has the final word – “A Grace Disguised” by Jerry Sittser

As I read this chapter again this morning in preparing for this post I was taken back to a place that brought a wall of sorrow into my heart and I cried uncontrollably as I read the words Sittser used to describe his thoughts on death, hope and faith.

I don’t think there has been any other book that has moved me like Sittser’s book “A Grace Disguised”. I believe it is because he understands what I know to be true about grief and the journey it takes you on. That through his words, I am relieved to know that what I feel, think and breathe, is normal. Normal for a person who believes in God, believes that Jesus died for our sins so that we might have eternal life. Yet in the midst of loss, a profound loss, the murky waters of grief cloud our judgment, thoughts and decisions and can even keep us from moving forward.

On the first page, Sittser speaks about how he and his remaining children sit to read the Bible together as family. One night they were reading about how Peter raised Dorcas from the dead. In reading this story with his children, the pain of “why didn’t God raise our loved ones” becomes very evident and brought me to face my own questions about “why”. His children were gripped with grief and cried out to their dad “why did God allow mommy to die” “why didn’t God do that for us?” “Why doesn’t God care about us?”. I too have asked those very same questions.

It was in that moment that the author realized he could not protect his children from the truth that death is the greatest enemy we have on earth. Acceptance of our own mortality can be so difficult. I know it was for me. I never even thought of my own mortality until my daughter was born. I found myself worrying what will she do if I die? Who will care for her? Then after her death, I found myself not really caring about my mortality. For me life looked differently and the game changed on October 13th, 2006.

I spent many hours over the last several years, and still do from time to time, wanting to reverse what happened and have my old life back. Because that meant Brittany would be here today with me. But as Sittser eludes to in this chapter, death will always come back. People we love will die sometime. And maybe that death might be worse than the one they experienced. I found no comfort in that. Justsayin.

But what I do find comfort in is the pure and simple truth that in my faith, the faith that Jesus is my Lord and Saviour and that he lived a mortal life, he died on the cross at the hands of men, then rose to life to walk amongst men and then ascended into Heaven to live an eternal life. Sittser addresses some of the worldly religions and skepticism that this brings, but I, like Sittser choose to believe that this story of Jesus is real.

When you look at the account of how the disciples mourned for Jesus and how they were overwhelmed by grief, so much so, that they feared for their own lives. Yet when they saw Jesus after the resurrection, they were moved to believe that death was not the end. And this my friends is how this mother, me, a child of God, gets through each and every day. This story gives me hope. The kind of hope that sets me straight when I think I can barely go on another minute in this life. It’s the kind of hope that shows me mercy, joy and let’s the sun shine through my very cloudy life.

As Easter approaches I find Good Friday looks a lot different to me than it has my entire christian life. I feel the pain of Jesus’ death and the sorrow of his disciples and his mother, Mary, more than I could possibly tell you. In recent years at Grace Community Church in Noblesville, IN., I found Good Friday services touched my heart in a way I cannot describe without falling to my knees. For I know that type of pain as I touched the cross, the pain of loss that is significant and personal. When I reached out to touch that cross lying on the floor it was as if I had been there. Experienced the death at that moment. And then there is the hope. The hope of the resurrection. Easter is, for me, the best holiday of all. It is the message of life – that life wins – that death does not have the final word.

Lastly, Sittser speaks of leading a life of ambivalence. Where hope and sorrow live together but not always harmoniously as we would think. There are times where even the largest amount of hope still outweighs the smallest amount of sorrow. And it is in those times, when I struggle the most. Like Sittser, I too have moments still when the sorrow washes over me and I find it hard to believe in anything.

This chapter really helped me focus on my faith and the foundation of that faith and the need to stay on course. For when I stagger and lose my footing, I lose ground and I don’t want to be here. For when I have hope and I keep that hope at the forefront of my life – I can go on knowing there is a purpose for me to be here – now where I am and that I will once again see my lovely daughter Brittany as she waits for me at the gates of Heaven when it is my turn to join her. Until then, I will continue to work diligently on walking the fine line of my grief journey.

until next time,

m

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