Last week was quite a week. Before it was all over (assuming that it is over!) Pookie Baby (the two-year-old, whose full-throttle toddlerhood nicknames don’t apply to the pitiful little heap Dad hauled into the ER in the wee hours the other day) spent some time in the hospital with pneumonia.
He’s home now, earlier than expected, with what seems to be the entire pharmaceutical department and a nifty Nebulizer thingie, and he’s back to all his usual tricks. Meanwhile, Dad’s voice barely lasted through church today, any semblance of a schedule for New Guy is out the window, and Biggest Brother is sporting an apparently random but very impressive case of hives. We’re tired, we’re strung out, and we have an adrenaline hangover—but above all, we are just so very thankful, for so many things. And that in itself testifies to the amazing grace of God.
This little adventure got me to thinking: When you put a limp toddler in a little bitty hospital gown and hook him up to oxygen and an IV, the brokenness of our world, and the unnaturalness of Death, the ever-lurking intruder, is suddenly glaringly apparent. There is something terribly wrong, terribly heartbreaking about those tiny hospital gowns.
But we should not be more complacent about the death of the elderly than we are of the young—death is no more natural for a 99 year old than it is for a 9 day old. Even those of us who know better can find ourselves murmuring the usual platitudes at the funerals of octogenarians: “It was his time to go…At least she had a good, full life…Just look at all that he accomplished…” When our elderly loved ones become our dearly departed ones, we miss them, often quite painfully. Yet we sometimes get sucked into the whole “life cycle” thing—death is just a natural part of life; she’s gone to a better place, etc., etc.
No, we groan with all creation, longing for Victorious King Jesus to banish our foe forever in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, with the blast of a trumpet. Meanwhile, let us have no more of the well-intentioned platitudes. Let us not grieve like those who have no hope, let us speak boldly of the hope that we have, but let us grieve honestly: Death is no friend; death is not natural. Pretending that it is mocks the goodness of God’s design, misses an opportunity for proclamation, and robs mourners of their right and their need to grieve.
We groan, and we hope.
Even so, Lord Jesus, quickly come.