Many years ago my young niece lost her husband of a year-and-a-half to an aggressive cancer that took him quickly. I remember saying to my brother, his father-in-law, “Why did this happen to one so young with so much hope and life in front of him? How did this happen to us?” My brother said something I’ve never forgotten. He said, “Mary, why shouldn’t it happen to our family? We’re not exempt from the sorrows of life, and death is the enemy.”
I knew that passage in 1 Corinthians 15 where Paul writes: “‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” I knew that, but I had never before experienced the truth that death is the enemy; death is the result, the sting, of our sin-cursed world. But thanks be to God for the victory we can have—even in the midst of sorrow—when we are a Christ-follower and we have his peace and comfort to see us through.
As I’ve tried to comfort some dear friends and a close family member who are going through the valley of the shadow of death in these last couple of months, I’ve been reminded again that we are sojourners here—we’re all on a journey that will end on this earth and begin in another place. The important thing to know is that when the number of our days comes to an end, we have done what is necessary to have victory over death. We must make peace with God now, on this side of death, while there is still time to accept the Way, the Truth, and the Life—Jesus Christ—and believe in his redemptive death and resurrection. There’s only one way to be assured of eternal life with God, and that is through faith in Jesus Christ.
As Fran has been faced with the very sudden death of her dear father, she will now have a new normal, won’t she? She won’t have that earthly dad to run to for advice, that earthly grandpa as a friend and role model for her children. She will need to be there for her mom, who will experience deep loneliness and need much help in adjusting to her life as a widow. Fran will also have to work through her own stages of grief. Hopefully, she will learn to trust God in new ways, to accept the love and help her friends will offer, and to remember that this is not the end of the story. She does not sorrow as one with no hope; she will see her dad again because he was ready to meet Jesus.