When Death Speaks

There is wisdom in the house of mourning, Solomon says. I sat there with my eyes on a casket, overcome with the brevity of life. How we are here today and gone tomorrow. Ever since July, death has seem to come to us in wave after wave. I’ve had death on my mind more than I ever have. It constantly knocks on the door of my comfortable life, intruding and uprooting.

I sat there at my grandfather’s funeral, learning from death. Death speaks many words to us. It speaks warning to the lukewarm. It speaks rebuke to the lazy. It speaks wisdom to the righteous. It’s speaks of another life. Telling us this one is coming to an end.

In Psalm 90, the psalmist cries out in lament. “Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us. Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Make us glad for as many years as you have afflicted us.

Psalm 90:12,15

Death speaks that you are not in control of your life. That you cannot carry anything with you from this life. It asks a question of us that each of us must answer. What are you doing with your life?

More than that, it proposes a greater question. What awaits you after death?

We all have moments of deep sorrow over losses. But we are to learn each time from them. Every death holds a lesson for the living. If we will listen to the slowing heartbeat of life we will arrive at understanding of what it truly means to live.

After I received the news that my grandfather had passed, I took a moment to worship the Lord. Just days before his passing, our first family dog was hit by ongoing traffic, our two girls as witnesses. And just months before that my husband’s dear mother passed away after battling a mysterious sickness. Death had come knocking much and immediately the Lord reminded me of the words of Job.

“The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”

For the first time in a long time, I worshipped the sovereignty of God in my pain with the greatest comfort possible. I was glad to say that God is God. I was glad to worship the one who gives breath and takes it away. Who else deserves my praise? His name is blessed, because He is God. There is no other.

At the funeral, my Uncle insightfully pointed out that though scholars are often upset at the mystery of the book of Job and the lack of God’s clarity to the questions of suffering, God answered with Himself, as God often does. God Himself. He is our answer when death is close and when death is far. When suffering pushes us to the edge of our understanding. God himself is our solution. A person. The Giver of life.

For the one who has the Lord, death speaks to us in a victorious way. It speaks of Christ who conquered death. Who tasted death for me but was not held by it, for it is impossible for the power of death to be greater than the power of God himself. So now, when I behold death before me I can rejoice in the life ahead. Knowing that there is true, eternal life on the other side. And although there is an aroma of somber reflection that comes every time death is before me, it’s only a reminder that my time here is short and God is generous with everyday he gives to us. We are, in a sense, people of death— always putting to death the old flesh who is with us— soon life will be the norm for us. Soon death will be swallowed up by life. No more fighting our sin. No more doubts. No more fear. And no more funerals. Death will intrude no longer.

Death speaks to us, friends.

The question is, what is it speaking to you?

By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.

Hebrews 11:4

But you have come… to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.”

Hebrews 12:22,24