Death, Where is Your Sting?
We had reached the Bible story portion of my two-year-old’s bedtime routine. An evening of freedom for me was mere minutes away, yet I sat next to Benjamin frozen, unable to put two words together, trying to will away the painful and inevitable knot that always grows in my throat whenever I attempt to hold back tears.
Less than 24 hours earlier, my granddaddy had passed away.
As I sat next to my son in silence, I felt overwhelmed by the unnaturalness of death. I knew, deep in my heart, that this was not how things should be. Surely death was not normal, not in the original plan or design for human life. The finality and the very real sting of it created such sorrow in my heart that I could almost taste it. And the pain it brought to my family was almost more than I could bear.
Sometimes, in the midst of sorrow, we can forget about the truths that we’ve always clung to, that have always given us hope.
And sometimes God graciously reminds us of those truths through the innocent, pure eyes of a small child.
Our Bible story for that night happened to be the crucifixion of Jesus—which is why the large knot was in my throat. The reality and ugliness of death seemed to press in all around me, making it harder to breathe. My granddaddy was gone. And the story in my hands reminded me that my Savior had also experienced the horribleness of death.
And that’s when the floodgates opened, I dropped my head into my hands, and wept.
Benjamin had been uncharacteristically still and quiet during all this. My head still in my hands, I could feel Benjamin reaching for his storybook Bible and pulling it out of my lap. When I lifted my tear-stained face, Benjamin was looking back at me and pointing at the page in front of him. The smile spreading across his face seemed inappropriate given the picture portraying Christ’s death.
“Jesus is alive again!” he exclaimed, and then began flipping through the pages and jabbering about only he knew what.
I can only imagine the unbearable pain, sadness, and disillusionment that those who loved and walked with Jesus felt in the days after his death. The man they had followed and placed their trust in was gone, leaving them lost and searching for purpose. This should not be, they must have thought. This is not how it was supposed to end.
Praise God, that’s not how it ended. Not at all.
That night during story time, Benjamin was repeating what his dad and I had already told him again and again: that Jesus did not stay dead. The strength of death proved powerless compared to the omnipotent words of a heavenly Father who called his beloved son back to life.
Yes, Jesus’ death was sorrowful. But the sorrow was for only a moment. And Christ’s resurrection proved once and for all that both sin and death had no mastery over him—not then, not now, not ever.
And as I sat next to my son, silently and appropriately grieving, a sharp ray of hope pierced through my sorrow-induced forgetfulness.
My granddaddy knew Jesus. He knew of Christ’s death and resurrection and had entered into a relationship with him many years ago. He knew what I also knew but had momentarily forgotten in the midst of grief: that Christ’s victory over death was also a victory for us who believe. Because of Jesus, those who follow him need not stay lost in the sorrow of death. To know Christ is to have the hope of an eternity secured with him.
Does this reality make the pain of separation disappear? Absolutely not. But the reality and hope that this separation is temporary enables me to say, through tears:
Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? (1 Corinthians 15:55).
In the words of my two-year-old: Jesus is alive again. And he has rendered death defeated.
Therein lies our hope. And this hope is more than enough.
By: Mary Holloman
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