By Stephen W. Hiemstra
Christianity is the only major religion that began in a cemetary. When Jesus rose from the dead, death changed from an endpoint to transition point. This is why Christians grieve less loudly at funerals than nonbelievers for whom death is an endpoint. The Apostle Paul summarized:
“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor 15:55-57 ESV)
Those who do not have faith in Christ remain under the law and have a different relationship with salvation and eternal life.
Too many families this year are dealing with end-of-life issues on account of the corona virus. For some, family members have contracted the virus and have found themselves confronting death in isolation. For others corona virus has kept them or their family members from getting regular care and they have found themselves confronting a life-threatening illness that might otherwise have been treatable. For many, these are sad times.
The following prayer from Everyday Prayers for Everyday People (Centreville: T2Pneuma Publishers LLC, 2018) has been especially popular:
We praise you
for your love in creating us in your image and
confess that we are unworthy of this high honor.
for the faith to endure suffering—
knowing that until you return in glory
“suffering produces endurance, and endurance
produces character, and character produces hope.” (Rom 5:3-4)
that for those whose faith is weak
you are ever-present and
have granted to us dominion
over every creeping thing. (Gen 1:28)
We claim this promise
in the strong name of Jesus Christ,
who died on the cross and
was raised from the dead.
In Jesus’ name—
we bind every dark shadow,
break the power of every curse,
every abuse, and every evil thought.
We cast every spirit of self-destruction and
resignation into the fiery pit.
We raise up the cross and declare:
no more, be gone.
Fill every heart with your Holy Spirit,
that lives might echo your light and joy.
May every child confess
that Jesus is Lord until you return in glory.
In his holy name, Amen.
In this context, grief is a huge issue this year. Obviously, for those who have lost a family member, they are confronting grief. However, the corona virus has produced many losses that must be grieved. Among these losses are lost jobs, lost freedom to move about, lost peace of mind, lost sense of security. Each loss sets off a grieving process. For my podcast on grief taken from my recent book, Living in Christ, click this link.