Remembering the departed is the landmark of the month of November.
Most of us expect to be at the cemetery with our family and friends to visit our dearly departed. Those who won’t or can’t, will probably choose to spend the day at home, solemnly reliving memories in silence. Otherwise, there is also that option to either combat the grief, or celebrate life, by going out and about.
As Christians, we have been taught this truth: it is not death that must be commemorated; it is the life well-lived that must be reflected on, remembered and celebrated. Too often, we see the horror of death because of the feeling of finality it gives without feeling equal – if not greater – horror over the death of every year, month, week, day, hour, minute or second wasted on nonsenses. Too often, we focus on the regrets we feel over wasted opportunities to express our thankfulness and love to that person who touched our hearts and helped make us who we are today. More often than not, it is this horror that makes remembering truly painful; it is these regrets that make us long for that impossible desire to have him/her beside us, living and breathing once again.
It is a reality that certain sites will always invoke certain memories which will, in turn, always squeeze our hearts. No matter how long our loved ones have left us, the time may never come that we would overcome this feeling. There is nothing wrong with missing our loved ones; it is but natural.
What is unnatural and dangerous then, most especially to us who claim to be Christians? It is allowing the enemy to capitalize on our griefs and longings by making us fixated on that aspect of death that highlights our permanent physical separation from our loved ones: that hopelessness.
Hopelessness is not the will of God for us. His will: I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (John 10:10).
One of the best proofs of this is probably the account of the affliction, death and resurrection of Lazarus in John 11. Martha knew in her heart that Jesus had the power to heal her brother but upon his death, she lost all hope. Thus, her poignant words, “Lord... if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21). She knew, without a doubt, how much the Lord loved her brother and she could not understand why He had to come after Lazarus had already succumbed to death.
Even as her heart grieved, being a believer, Martha expressed her faith in eternal life “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” But the Lord knew how her grief and longing for her brother could be used to creep in and extinguish that hope. It is in the context of this horror and regret that our Lord Jesus Christ declared, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)
I am the resurrection and the life... Do you believe this? What powerful revelation! If we will only choose to open our spiritual eyes, we will see that this is a promise of God that we can hold on to. Holding to this promise, there is hope in the misery of our afflictions, for there is the promise of peace in the communion with our Creator and Redeemer. Holding to this promise, there is hope in unfulfilled dreams and broken promises, for the fullness of joy is ours in His presence. Holding to this promise, there is hope in the face of death, for there is life after death. Death is not a dead end but merely a door to His glorious throne of blessings.
I am the resurrection and the life... Do you believe this? Belief starts not at death, but here and now, in the life we are living. Sin is our enemy, our accuser, our jailer and our executioner. By ourselves, there is truly no hope. Death becomes the end of that hope, and after that, eternal punishment. But the Apostle Paul assures us: “We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.” (Romans 6:6-7)
I am the resurrection and the life... Do you believe this? Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ on the cross, we now have undying hope. If only we accept Him and truly live our lives in this belief, we can start to live free from the dominion of our sinful nature and the curses that come with it, and begin walking in the blessed righteousness of God. If only we allow His transforming grace to dominate us, we can now begin that glorious journey to know Him truthfully and personally, to love Him passionately and wholeheartedly and to serve Him faithfully, with integrity and excellence, until we stand before Him on Judgment Day.
Brothers and sisters, sin and death cannot take hold of us because our Lord Jesus Christ has overcome them. He is our undying hope for He is the Resurrection and the Life.
All glory and praises to our Almighty God!