Kari Lee Fournier
Memorial Day: overcoming the sadness of death
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By Kari Lee Fournier
May 26, 2017

As we all eagerly look forward to the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, we also pause for reflection on those brave souls in the armed forces who gave their lives, truly their all, for their country – for the freedoms and other cherished rights that we all are so blessed to enjoy.

We also think about other loved ones who passed away, sometimes leaving our lives so very suddenly. Sometimes under very painful circumstances for our loved ones, either physically, emotionally, or mentally – or a combination thereof.

Death. The final chapter. Something that we try hard not to think about, until forced to do so. We have such a fear of the unknown. And especially that exact moment of death. For our loved ones, and for ourselves.

For those of us who have watched a loved one taken from this Earth, we grieve to the depths of our very soul. Some days, even a particular song or smell reminds us of them – and brings us immediately to our knees, convulsing in deep and heartfelt sobs.

And for ourselves, we wonder how death will come to us. Will we be in pain? Will we maybe lose our minds slowly to Alzheimer's, possibly succumb to cancer, or perhaps suffer a massive heart attack? All terrifying thoughts.

Yet this is where Our Lord of the Bible comes into the picture. This is where He explains that there is not anything to fear in death for those of us who have accepted that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for our sins and then rose again. Indeed, the sting of death has been swallowed up in the victory of Christ, and the complete end to that story will be written at the end of the prophesied Kingdom Age to come – where Jesus rules and reigns in glory.

Interestingly, according to Scripture, death is not really normal or natural. In fact, the word 'death' is never even used in the Bible – only the word 'sleep.' Rather, death is an enemy – the last enemy to be conquered by God.

Thus, for the Christian believer, death is merely a portal to Heaven – a place where Jesus assures us in John 14:1-3 that He will have a special place ready for each of us: "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also."

Just what is Heaven like? Paul, who was taken to Heaven at one point, actually struggled with the choice on whether to live or to die. And his words in 1 Corinthians 15:55 speak to that fact: "O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?" Paul also expressed a similar outlook in Philippians 1:21: "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain."

This may explain why there are only a few paragraphs on Heaven in the Bible – once we are exposed to it, there will be no desire to turn back! And it also no doubt explains why Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, said that the day of one's death is better than the day of one's birth.

Paul also puts this sentiment very nicely in 2 Corinthians 5:8: "We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord." It's almost too much to comprehend, being right in front of our Lord and Savior – and then looking at Him and talking to Him.

Remarkably, Heaven has no more of the pain and suffering associated with the curse that entered into the world after 'the fall' with Adam in the Garden of Eden – and it's interesting to note that the Earth and all of creation also was included in that curse. We see in Romans 8:19-21: "For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God."

Yes, creation also suffers, and this is mentioned again in Romans 8:22: "For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now."

But in getting back to the ugly scenario of death that causes all of us so much fretting, there also remains one other wonderful and added blessing for the present generation, the generation that we are living in right now. That blessing involves the imminent Rapture of God's Church of Believers, which Jesus spoke of in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52: "Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet...."

When the Rapture occurs, the dead in Christ will rise first, and believers will be 'caught up suddenly' with the dead, together in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Bible scholars well versed in prophecy confirm that the event of the Rapture could happen at any moment, as all prophecy that would need to be fulfilled prior to that event already has occurred.

Additionally, the Bible tells us that the generation that sees the re-gathering of the nation of Israel will see the return of Christ – that they will witness the Rapture. This re-gathering happened on May 14, 1948, when Israel was declared a nation in just one day – exactly as had been prophesied.

How long is a generation according to the Bible? Well, Psalm 90:10 refers to a generation being 70 to 80 years. It has been 69 years since Israel re-gathered – so doing the math gives us great comfort indeed! Since the Rapture would mean no physical death for those carried up, after which they would always be with the Lord forever and ever, many of us would find this to be the best scenario imaginable!

But even without a Rapture, Christians have every reason not to fear death. Historical records, in fact, show us that Christians, as compared to those of other faiths, typically have the most peaceful and easy last few moments on this Earth.

Lending credence to those findings is our beloved Billy Graham, who was asked if an angel comes to be with us and take us to Heaven when we die. Here is his knowledgeable and comforting answer: "Yes, the Bible indicates that when we die we will not be alone, but angels will accompany us on our journey to heaven (if that is our destiny). In one of His parables, Jesus told about a poor man who had suffered much during his time on earth. When he died, Jesus said, "the angels carried him to Abraham's side (i.e., to heaven)" (Luke 16:22).

So for now, we fulfill our missions on Earth for Jesus Christ. We do not worry, as advised in James 4:14: "whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away."

Yes, life is but a mere vapor in eternity. And for the Christian, there is every reason for true joy and contentment within that small moment of time – at the end of which we are brought face to face with Our Lord and Savior. And Scripture tells us that God will wipe away every tear from our eyes – in a place where there is absolutely no more pain and suffering.

This wonderful and magnificent truth most definitely leads to the most glorious feeling of joy on our insides...a joy that simply overflows, causing us to whisper to ourselves, over and over in our quieter moments, the most comforting and peaceful affirmation ever uttered: "All Is Well With My Soul." And so it is....

© Kari Lee Fournier

 

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Kari Lee Fournier

Kari Lee Fournier is a Christian conservative freelance writer. Recently retired after 38 years with her City Water Utility, Kari likes to say that she's still in the water business – although her work now involves the 'Living Water,' represented by the Holy Spirit, which is freely given by Jesus Christ to those who believe that He is their Savior who died and rose again for their sins. In her writings, she primarily attempts to relay the message of the Holy Bible in a simple way, so that those who read her work can immediately apply the Bible's teachings to their own personal life's journeys and trials. Kari's columns have appeared in the Faith Perspectives section of Gannett Company newspapers throughout northeastern Wisconsin.

Contact Kari at wolfgang4234@hotmail.com.

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