This week my family said goodbye to my grandmother, or as we called her Granny. She had been sick and now is completely healed and living in the presence of the Lord. My Granny was a strong woman and a Godly woman. She comes to know God later in life after her children were all grown. As a matter of fact, my uncle was preaching the night that she came to know the Lord and was the one that conducted her funeral. I guess you could say that he was there at her at her spiritual birth and her spiritual home-going. Granny loved the Lord and she loved church and she seemed to have a great desire to do everything that she could for the kingdom of God, almost as if she was making up for the time that she had lost earlier in her life.
For me, the last several months it seems that I have been going to one funeral after another. As a pastor, I understand that this is a part of the calling and something that has to be done. As I stood there looking at my Granny and mourning her death, I begin to think how unnatural it all seemed. I mean my Granny was ninety-two years old and had lived a long life and yet here we were crying and mourning. As a family, we understood that she had been sick and that this day was going to come sooner rather than later, yet it still seemed as though it was something that shouldn’t be happening to us. I guess this is what everyone feels when they are in this position. As I drove back home, all I could think about was why is it that the death of a loved one, those that we know are saints and are living in the presence of the Almighty God, so difficult? Then the Spirit of the Lord began to speak to me and what He said was “it was never supposed to be this way”. That is when it hit me that we were not created to die. Mourning and grief are not a part of the plan of God, but it is a result of the sin of man.
Paul teaches us, in Romans 5, that because of the sin of Adam, and because of this one man’s sin, we all must now suffer. One of those things that we suffer is the death of those that we love. God never meant for us to experience death or grief. God’s desire was to create an everlasting people but because of sin, we have to deal with this most unnatural element of life, death. I begin to think about the fact that the Father understood this as He watched His Son die on a cross. Just two weeks ago, I stood over the casket of a son and watched as a mother and father wept over the death of their child. I realized that sin did not just hurt us as humans, but sin also hurt God. You see God experienced death in a far greater pain than we do. For God sees all those that die without Him. All those that never accepted Him that goes into outer darkness. You see as Christians, we serve a brokenhearted God. For us, there are times when those that die we are not sure where they will spend eternity, but for God, there is certainty in the destination of every soul. Imagine how God feels when one dies without Him and there is nothing that He can do to save them because they made their choice. Our tears will be wiped away and yet God will always have that knowledge that there are those that He loved so greatly that He gave His life, and they are now in outer darkness.
For us, we grieved because we have lost someone and there is an empty hole in our life. We miss them, we wish we could talk to them one more time. God feels that way too. Mourning is an area of our life that God understands completely. As for my Granny, there is no mourning in heaven over her because she is in the presence of the Lord. God is not grieving over her because she chose to serve Him a long time ago. I believe that God takes great joy in seeing us, and having us with Him. I believe that God is like a father whose kids have been at camp and they have finally come home. He is joyful and glad that they are with Him and His house is a little fuller than it was before. I am so glad that we serve a God that “can be touched by the feelings of our infirmities”.