Death isn't something that we normally think about. Not me, at least. In fact, I would argue that most of the time, we are consumed with thoughts about life: life in the past; the way life is now; the way life will be in the future. Heck, I'm about to have a kid--I'm even thinking about creating life!
But then sometimes, death shows up. Maybe a slow and expected type death, or maybe a sudden and tragic one. Either way, it makes you stop thinking about this eternal-seeming life on earth and face the reality that one day, you and everyone around you will be dead.
This last week, that's what death did to me. It showed up in the sudden and tragic way and confronted me with those thoughts. From what I have seen on social media, it has confronted many other people as well. I am thankful that even while death is a painful thing, I have the grounds to stand on to confidently stand up to it instead of avoid or dwell on it.
Death wasn't part of the plan.
In the beginning, God created life, and it was good. It wasn't until Genesis 3 and the Fall of mankind, that is, the first act of disobedience towards God, that death entered the world. Take Romans 5:12: "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned..." We see that death is in fact a consequence and that it is practically contradictory to what God had initially planned for us. Our sin is our destruction.
Most philosophies (i.e. evolution) would say that death is the natural end to life, where Christianity says that it was not intended to be. Christianity even goes as far as to call death the enemy--the final one that Jesus will conquer, and one that He has already proved to be triumphant over. (1 Corinthians 15:24-26)
God is still sovereign.
A normal response to what we read above would be something along the lines of, "well did Adam and Eve catch God by surprise when they sinned?" and "did God make a mistake?" To which the Bible resounds, "No! Not by any means!" In fact, the Bible clearly states, over and over, that God is sovereign over all and that there is purpose in every single thing that He orchestrates.
"I am God and there is no other; I am God and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do what I please...What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that will I do." (Isaiah 46:9-11, emphasis mine)
We can see through the story of Joseph in Genesis that all of the times in Joseph's life that seemed bleak and hopeless, God was actually using for good. Most profoundly of all, we are able to look at the story of Jesus and the cross. The most heinous crime of all was used to redeem God's Bride to Himself--a great, great thing.
"When we begin to think that 'the God I know would never allow this,' we have taken our first step toward discovering that God is not who we think He is. That is when we can begin to explore the wonder of His sovereignty, seeking to know Him as He is and not as we have reduced Him to be." - Nancie Guthrie
However, just because we know that God is sovereign does not mean that we are to just brush death under the rug. Paul told the Romans in chapter 12, "weep with those that weep" and we read in John that Jesus Himself wept over the death of Lazarus. It is shown to us that it is normal to feel sorrow over the loss of someone who we love and cherish.
People throw around phrases like, "see you on the other side, bro!" with absolutely no grounds to stand on. Those who reject Jesus die eternally and this life on earth, full of hurt and broken hearts, was as close to Heaven as they will be. If you don't believe in God, where do you plan on seeing that person? If you reject Jesus, then what does death hold for you? Where do you get your hope from and what are you hoping for?
"Remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world." (Ephesians 2:12)
For those that trust in Jesus and repent of their sins, there is a different story:
"But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope." (1 Thessalonians 4:13)
When death interrupts life, I can feel sad about loss, but I don't mourn the way a non-believer would. I have hope that maybe I will see that person again; I am not in a state of eternal separation from them--this is a temporary loss. I have hope in my Mighty King who proved triumphant over death when He rose from the grave. I have hope that there is more than just this life, and even that this life is the furthest I will ever be from Heaven--that life after death is full of Holy worship of my Creator. I can have assurance that because God is sovereign, even my uncertainty in life is not uncertain.