Before William Wallace is gruesomely put to death in Braveheart, there is a scene with Princess Isabelle and King Edward I in which the French princess leans closely beside the once tyrannical king and whispers, “You see? Death comes to us all.”
Death, whether you are tyrannical king, French princess, or an ordinary citizen, does indeed come to us all. For some it comes as swiftly as a gust of wind in a storm. For others it creeps in like a cold, winter night.
I am not sure which is better: to not see it coming or to see it coming from miles away. I have been caught off-guard by the death of people I love, and like that cold, winter night, I have watched death creep itself into the lives of others. For the ones who are doing the dying, perhaps they would tell us it is better to not see it coming than to suffer endless amounts of pain. For the ones doing the grieving, perhaps it’s a matter of perspective. I’d much rather know the person I loved did not suffer than to watch them suffer with every breath.
Today, I heard a story of a little boy who called into the Christian radio station he listened to often. His father was a farmer and had a cow that had somehow had broken its back. The little boy had decided to put the poor cow out of her misery so his dad would not have to do it. He told the radio host that after asking God why the cow had had to die, God answered by reminding the boy that even His son had died. The boy went on to remind the host and listeners that even when we lose a pet or someone we love, God understands because He lost His son.
Even in death, God understands our pain. He understands both as a Father who watched His son die and as a Savior who died. He knows both sides of the coin. So who better to turn to in our time of dying or grieving than the One who understands it better than anyone?
As I am writing this I am watching someone I deeply love die. Watching her slowly drift off into death, I can’t help but think about all she is about to experience. For my finite mind and imagination, my most vivid thoughts of heaven cannot compare to the real thing. I am somewhat envious of her…she will soon she the face of Jesus. What more beautiful sight is there? And yet…I am sad at losing her, especially in the way she is leaving this world. And in my sadness, I have cried out to the only One who understands and can give true comfort. He is the same face that she will soon see with perfect vision, run to with knees that do not ache, and praise with a voice strong and vibrant.
Whether it comes swiftly or creeps in, for the believer death is another opportunity for us to run to God who understands both the dying and the grieving.