Shortly before my last grandparent passed away, my siblings and I all traveled to see him.
It feels like death and suffering has surrounded me. Last spring, I watched my friends lose their 4-month-old. This spring it has intensified. A former student at UMD died on January 22, 2017 after a 15 month battle with colon cancer. My wife’s great aunt passed away on January 23, 2017. My last living grandparent passed away January 27, 2017. He was 95 years old. A pastor of the church that I attended in Duluth died unexpectedly at age 52 in a house fire. Another friend is facing terminal cancer. He has 6 kids. Through it all, I have been studying theology.
What does God have to say about death and suffering? Quite a lot. Jesus wept when Lazarus died. Thus, we can too. He talked about his own death and how he would suffer. Thus, he has experienced it himself. And in John 16:33 he said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
In his book, The Art of Dying: Living Fully into the Life to Come, Rob Moll writes “Good deaths, even the best of them, are terrible because they separate.” He also says that for the Christian “this life is only the prelude to an eternal life with Christ.”
In between studying and writing papers, I have been reflecting on my work. While reading part of Moll’s book, I thought about how my job prepares students for death. I help students meet Jesus. I help them learn to follow God in their daily lives. Because a life well lived for God is the best preparation for death.
Thanks for helping me prepare students for death.
Monday afternoon we arrived at my parents house for a visit with my parents and grandmother after Christmas. We were planning to travel home Wednesday afternoon to prepare to host a new year’s party at our house. Tuesday, Grandma stopped eating and drinking and when she went to bed that evening my dad and I had our final conversation with her. Wednesday she spoke her final words in the morning to my kids and she passed away Friday night. While it was a surprise how quickly it went, she was on hospice and it was expected to happen sometime. It just seemed to go quickly at the end.
Death has a way of helping us take time to reflect and give careful thought to our values. As I sat at my grandmother’s bedside I thought about Read more
Sitting in Church this Sunday brought a wave of emotion. Singing the song, “In Christ Alone,” began to speak to me. As I sang the last verse I couldn’t hold in the emotion that was overcoming me. Sandi and I have recently experienced great joy and sorrow. We welcomed the birth of our son, Elam in to the world. During the same week, just a few days later we received the phone call that one of Sandi’s aunt’s that she is named after passed away. The final verse speaks, “from life’s first cry to final breath.” I couldn’t help but think about how God came down and experienced both of those events. He knows the joy of new life. He also knows the pain and sorrow of death.
This Christmas has given me time to think, reflect and pause for a moment. I have been letting Christmas speak to me. More realistically I have been letting God speak to me through his word and worship at my local church during this advent season. So what have I been learning? Read more