By David Faust
My dad died on St. Patrick’s Day in 2011. His death wasn’t surprising, for he had been sick for several years. Yet, when I heard the final word about his passing, my first reaction was a flash of anger—not toward anyone in particular. I just felt a keen sense of loss. I realized that, on this side of Heaven, I would never again hear Dad’s distinctive voice or even have the chance to rub his bald head.
Christians should be realistic about death, but we should never get too comfortable with it. Scripture calls death “the last enemy to be destroyed” (1 Corinthians 15:26). Satan tries to hold people “in slavery by their fear of death” (Hebrews 2:14, 15). Christ came to break death’s stranglehold on the human race, but even he was brought to tears by the death of his friend Lazarus.
Feelings About Death
My friend Mark Koerner was beloved by his church and community. He retired after 27 years as an elementary school principal, where he won awards for leading a “school of character.” Then for eight years he served as Director of Alumni Ministries at Cincinnati Christian University.
Mark died suddenly on a chilly day in October. At the funeral his brother LaVon described his own emotions. “When I heard the news,” LaVon confessed, “at first I felt mad. Mark’s wife, son, and daughter will miss him so much. He won’t be there to attend his grandchildren’s graduations and weddings. It made me mad.”
“Then,” he continued, “I felt sad. Sad for all of us who are left to grieve. Sad that Mark won’t be around to eat with us, laugh with us, and encourage us.”
“But then,” LaVon went on, “as I continued to process my emotions, I quit feeling mad and sad. I actually felt glad. Glad for the hope we have in Christ. Glad that Mark is now in the presence of the Lord. Glad we will see him again.”
Facts About Resurrection
The good news? Empty lives find hope in an empty tomb. God’s angel announced, “He is not here; he has risen, just as he said” (Matthew 28:6). Jesus’ enemies concocted a rumor about his body being stolen (vv. 11-15), but soon the “stolen merchandise” was walking around in public and meeting with eyewitnesses, including both worshippers and doubters (vv. 16, 17). He claimed universal authority “in heaven and on earth”—a claim that’s hard to dispute when it comes from someone who rose from the dead. He commanded his followers to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing . . . and teaching them,” and assured them of his ongoing presence (vv. 18-20).
When Dad died, I could relate to Martha who was mad and sad because her brother had died. Jesus reassured her: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.” Then he asked a penetrating question: “Do you believe this?” (John 11:25, 26). It was as if Jesus looked me right in the eye and said, “Dave, you say you believe in the resurrection. But now your own dad has died. Are these just some nice religious words to you, or do you really believe my promise?”
I do believe. And for all who believe—even when we’re mad, sad, or glad—Easter isn’t just a once-a-year holiday. It’s a daily source of hope and inspiration.
1. What emotions stir in you when you think about dying?
2. Why do you believe Jesus rose from the dead?
David Faust is president of Cincinnati Christian University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and past Executive Editor of The Lookout.
The Lookout’s Bible Reading Plan for March 31, 2013
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
Deuteronomy 27, 28
Deuteronomy 33, 34