It's Easter so it should come as no surprise that I am writing about death. This year however, has been especially poignant for me as I remember and acknowledge what Jesus Christ did for me on that day, and his stunning triumph over death and hell three days later.
A friend of mine, Rob Silver, was diagnosed with lung cancer about four weeks ago, and died three weeks later. Despite a part of me not wanting to go and see him dying in hospital, I felt compelled to go. I'm glad that I did because I was able to hold his hand and say thank you, and goodbye. He died the next day. An otherwise fit and healthy, non smoking Christian, a family man, a minister, a friend to many: suddenly called back home to Heaven.
We were all still in shock when we attended his "celebration of life" service, and yet it was the most uplifting and inspiring funeral I have ever attended. I left feeling happy and light. There was sadness of course. He will be missed. But there was also joy. Rob had a profound impact on my life, as he did on the lives of countless others. He was a man who understood God's grace and showed it to others. He was a man who believed in the promised glorious afterlife, the resurrection of the dead, a new imperishable body within which his soul would forever cease suffering. The pain of life in this broken world is over for Rob.
I have been to the funerals of people who are either unsure about the afterlife or do not believe there is one. The contrast between Rob's life celebration and these funerals is too stark for words. Depressingly sad. I believe, as Rob did, and billions of others do, in everlasting glory in a place where there is no suffering or sorrow. I believe this because of the historical fact of the death and resurrection of Christ, and because of the difference He makes in my life. I live this life with great hope, inextinguishable hope and my prayer for everyone at Easter, on Resurrection Sunday, is that they will also know this hope, this love and this grace. Happy Easter.