A very dear friend of ours does not have long to live.  Pat and her husband Dennis have been friends since we went on staff at Hayward Church in ‘96.  Pat has a brain tumor, and nothing has been effective in treating it. 

It is times like this that I remind myself of something I learned a long time ago:  We really do not understand death.  Aside from my belief that death is not natural (not the way it was supposed to be), it is universal, but not natural.  Someone at Bev’s older brother’s church was dying, he told the church this:

Imagine you know nothing about pregnancy.  There is a woman near you who is in extreme pain and has this awful swelling in her abdominal region.  She is in so much pain, she does not try to hide it, but is screaming, sweating profusely and doubles over in what appears to be convulsions.  Pretty soon, some medical people take her away and you never see her again.

You are not around to witness what happens AFTER.  You do not see the pain end with the birth of the child.  You do not see the tears of pain turn into tears of joy as that child is placed is their mother’s arms.  You do not see the woman fall asleep with a smile on her face as she rests from her labor.

This is the way death is for us Christians.  We do not see what happens AFTER.  The tears of joy at looking into the face of Jesus.  The warmth of His welcoming arms.  The rest of leaving behind all the pain from the labor of living.  I am positive that if we were allowed to contact our departed family in heaven and ask if they would like to come back to us, they would not hesitate – to tell you, that you must be nuts!

I am not suggesting that we should not mourn.  When a loved one dies, we who are still here suffer loss and that loss has to be mourned.  I am suggesting however that at an appropriate time, we remind ourselves that those in Christ are with Jesus and all the suffering, all the aches, all the difficulty, and all the tears are gone.