Words are kind of my thing. Speaking, singing, writing--those make up most of my life. This summer, however, words have come so slowly. It has been difficult to put language to the experience of losing a beloved student, Devin. I struggle to wrap my head and heart around the "new normal." And it hit me today walking across the park, as I became frustrated with my lack of words to share. We weren't made for this. We weren’t made to deal with death.
We just weren’t.
I’ve never really thought about it that way before. I’ve had the realization that we were not made to die. My friend, Jim, said so insightfully once that when God handed out the consequence of death after the fall, it's possible that Adam and Eve had no clue what death even was. It wasn't how they were designed. It wasn't what we were meant for.
We were meant for life; for everlasting perfection, in relationship with God, others, and the world around us. But temptation won the moment. Sin exploded into the world, covering creation with uncontainable death. And ever since, there are times that we just feel like it’s not supposed to be this way. And that’s because it isn’t.
We were not only created as eternal souls, but also to love those who are constant; God and others in the garden. Our hearts were designed for deep love and connection, to be won over by the beauty of others, and feeling more full because they are in our midst. Death is the opposite of the exact thing you were designed for. Deep love and connection is traded for deep separation and loss, the beauty of others is relegated to memories, and emptiness sets in where the fullness of the lost one’s presence used to reside.
We ache. Jesus ached for his friend, Lazarus.
Scripture even says that all the earth aches.
“For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.” Romans 8:22
It’s so easy to get stuck in the ache. I get stuck some days. Ticked that things aren’t the way they were meant to be and that the pain of death is more than we were ever made to handle. Refusing to let go to the life that has ended because it shouldn’t have. Overwhelmed by the thought that in our lifetime, that death, this thing we weren't designed to handle, will occur again and again. It’s easy to get stuck.
In times like those, the stuck times, I go back to the one thing that helps.
God hated death. God hates death. Even more than I do, God hates death. God was so outraged by death twisting, maligning, torturing, slaughtering his beloved workmanship that he did something about it. Love moved him to action. He could let it go no longer. And at just the right time, he sent Jesus to live fully, die completely, and win life back again; only the first work of his restoring all creation back to its original “garden” state. It's a tough meantime we must endure, friends--sharing life with death until Jesus returns to say "no more." There's hope in that promise, though, that brings us to a new day. It motivates us to speak that hope to others, that they, too, may trust the complete life found only in Christ and that death doesn't get the last word.
There are days that I say, “Jesus, I’m not cut out for this.” And I imagine his half smile, saying, “I know you aren’t. Nobody is. But I’ve put life in your heart and soon it will be all you know once again. The life you were made for.”