There is something profoundly wrong with death. I am not talking in abstract terms here; I am talking about the death of my Mother last year.
My Mom was the one who I could always count on to be there for me, even when I had done wrong. She was the one who dried my tears from my eyes with a dishtowel when I cried. She was the one who brought joy to my life as a child.
I was very ill when I was a kid. I had a severe case of histoplasmosis of the lungs at age one. This was not as treatable a condition then as it is now. My parents were told at one point that I had only a few months to live. I was fourteen before I really grew out of it.
Mom was the one who held me in her arms when I could not get my breath and rocked me back and forth to help me breath. She made my early life special. She took me to see what corn was, how it grew on the stalk, and how it had hair that grew on the end. She showed me many things. She channeled my intelligence into productive things and always seemed to have an encouraging word for me.
She was there for me when the kids at school made fun of me. You see, I was the kid with the perpetual sinus infection. My derogatory nickname was “Buggers.” I was not a part of the “in crowd” until well into high school. I just physically could not defend myself or keep up. She encouraged me when others would not.
My mother’s death was not right. It was profoundly wrong in the moral sense. I know that intuitively. She should not have died, but she did.
She did not die an ordinary, painless death either. She passed away of congestive heart failure after living for about eight years longer than the doctors thought she would. Her breathing became more and more laborious with each passing day. She would get better, only to get worse. I watched her die one breath at a time for years when there was nothing that I could do.
What am I to make of this? Am I to adopt a worldview which would make death just an ordinary part of life? Should I just accept it as a part of the way the universe works?
No way! I want a worldview that accounts for the reality of evil and suffering. I want it to be called evil, not just the absence of happiness that is a social construct of how people are supposed to be allowed to live. I want death to be wrong. I need an absolute standard for right and wrong which calls death the enemy and triumphs over it (1 Cor. 15:25-28).
Christianity allows for this standard. It allows us to call evil “evil.” I know that this standard of good and evil must be real. Life makes no intuitive sense without it. The denial of it is impossible in view of the pain and suffering we see in our world.
Hate God for all of this? How could I possibly hate the only Being that anyone has ever conceptualized who could give meaning to all of this (Ephesians 1:3-10)? How could I hate the One who has a reason for all of the pain, even if He does not reveal that reason (Romans 8:28)?
How could I not despise the worldview that would result in no evil, no purpose, and no victory? Atheism, and many forms of religion, deny an absolute standard of morality, of what is right and what is wrong. Yet those who follow these systems of thought do not accept the idea of meaningless suffering in their heart of hearts. All you have to do is offend them. All you have to do is interfere with their happiness, and they will complain. They will enforce an absolute standard.
All you have to do is posit a God, and they will begin to try to disprove His existence by appealing to the same absolute standard of evil that they cannot provide a foundation for. They will say, “The presence of evil and suffering in the world proves that there is not God.”
When their parents die, see if they cry, and if they do, remind them that there is a worldview that gives hope even in the face of absolute evil. In addition, victory, won by Christ, is promised to all who repent and trust Him. Remind them of the love of Christ for the world that they are a part of.
God, grant us repentance to live and faith to believe. Give us Your power and Your peace in the midst of our suffering. Help us, even in our grief and pain, to rest all of our hopes on the glorious victory won for us by Jesus Christ. “To the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.”