For a while, I’ve dreaded the inevitable—that time when a family member calls with bad news. It happened last Saturday. I missed the first call from mom, but when she called back immediately, I feared it was trouble. “What’s wrong?”
Honestly, I expected the call to be about one of the senior members of our family. But this caught me totally off guard. It was my 28-year-old cousin. He was killed in a car accident. This Saturday, we’re burying DeAndre—a father, brother, uncle and cousin. He will be greatly missed.
Death hurts. Even though we know, if Christ tarries, we will die one day, we avoid thinking about it. This is especially true for teens and young adults. We feel invincible and take life for granted. Which is why we need to be cautioned about trying to move past tragedies involving death too quickly. We need to process death and ponder eternity.
My cousin’s death reminded me of a hard truth: Death shouldn’t be wasted.
Death Is a Cruel Teacher
When death comes knocking, we’re tempted to suppress the pain. We numb the pain with drugs, sex, entertainment and alcohol. But when the smoke clears and the buzz fades, the fact remains that we’ve lost someone we dearly care about, and we can’t escape this sobering reality.
We can’t ignore death’s implications for our own life. Death is a cruel teacher, but a teacher nonetheless. Satan would rather we not contemplate death. If our minds think about eternal things, it’s less likely we will waste the temporal. If we pause to contemplate what the death of another means for us, we’re faced with questions like: “How long will I live?” “What happens after we die?” “Is there a heaven, and if so, am I going?” “Does God really exist? If so, is he pleased with me?”
We avoid these questions by making up stories about what we want to be true. We trust what we’ve heard from a parent or childhood preacher, or what we feel in our hearts should be true. “I’m a good person.” “I walked down the aisle and prayed a prayer.” “I go to church when I can.” These thoughts provide a false security. Only in Scripture can we find real assurance about our eternal destiny. When we reflect on death absent of Scripture, we’re left with clichés, anecdotes and false hope.