My pastor, Father Ladd Harris, constantly tells us, “Death is not a period but a comma.” My church is an older congregation in Florida’s retirement community, so death is a common occurrence. The congregation understands of returning to God after a long life. But our church has recently suffered two deaths that have made us wonder where God is.
Pat was in her mid-70s and perfectly healthy. In early January, she got a cold. Over three months, she continued to get sicker and was hospitalized with an infection the doctors did not understand. Pat struggled for three months to overcome the infection. Her daughters and husband made the difficult decision to take her off life support and to let her go home. Her husband, Jack, never left her side and is now lost without his wife of fifty-four years.
The second death took the life of a nineteen-month-old nephew of a friend and church member, Agda. Her nephew suffered from a heart condition, which requires nurses around the clock. For most of his life, his parents had an intensive care unit in their living room with nurses coming and going constantly. The baby boy fought to live until he no longer had the strength. Where is God in this time of darkness?
Satan introduced death, pain, brokenness, and suffering into the world when he got Eve to eat forbidden fruit. Satan causes our pain and suffering in the world in an attempt to get in between us and God. The world surrounds death with darkness, and Satan finds strength and power in this darkness. The world tells us death is a period—an end to one’s life in the world. We no longer hear our loved ones’ voices, smell their scents, or see their physical bodies. It is finished. Satan rejoices in your sorrow as you mourn the loss of a loved one, because you buy into the ending.
The aftermath of a death leaves all of us—family members, friends, and others asking where God is. How could God take a healthy woman? How could God allow the death of a baby? What was the baby’s calling? Did our loved one die because we let them down in some way? These questions never seem to be resolved in our minds. We tell ourselves that our loved one is in a better place without pain and suffering, which is the truth. But it can be so hard to cling to God’s promises in the midst of death’s darkness.
The Easter promise gives us eternal life with the Triune God in his kingdom, a kingdom without pain or suffering. But it is more than that. Just as Jesus rose again and ascended into heaven, God the Father also raises us up to be in his kingdom. Even at death, God refuses to let the devil get the final say.
When we enter the Kingdom of God, death becomes a journey to eternal life with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. One day there will be no more death, pain, brokenness, and suffering. The Kingdom of God is a return to the Garden of Eden—the way God originally imagined the world to be.
What if we thought of death as healing? When we die, we enter into the Kingdom of God with no pain, brokenness, or suffering. In God’s kingdom, we will experience wholeness. We will finally experience the life God intended us to have all along. We will have the perfect body. We will experience no pain or suffering. We will be in a relationship with the Triune God—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
God’s love is unconditional and unending. When God the Father sent his only begotten son to die for our sins, he did it out love for his creation—you and me alike. And he did not abandon Jesus Christ on the cross but raised him to new life on the third day. There is no separating us from God’s love, even after death, because he will raise us up to new life. When we die, you become whole in the Kingdom of God. This is why death is not a period but a comma, because it is not an ending but the beginning of a new life with God.
Thanks be to God!