“But when Jesus heard what had happened, he said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith, and she will be healed.” Luke 8:50
We are spiritually dead, blind and deaf to our spiritual needs. We are all infected with the incurable disease of sin which leads to death.1 The apostle Paul gives us a graphic diagnostic picture of our spiritual disease:
“Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior and gossip. They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent,proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy.”2
Jesus came to deliver us from sin and to wake us from our deathly slumber. He was asked to see the twelve year daughter of Jairus, a leader of the local synagogue who was dying. Jesus was on his way after healing a woman with a bleeding disorder when a messenger came to tell Jairus the bad news that his daughter has died. But Jesus assured Jairus: “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith, and she will be healed.”3
When Jesus arrived, the house was filled with people weeping and wailing. Jesus told them to stop weeping as she was not dead but only asleep. And the crowd laughed at him because they all knew she had died. But Jesus had the last laugh when Jesus commanded the girl to get up and life returned to her.4 Jesus performed the miracle of instant cure in the face of death to demonstrate his power over death and to show us that death is not the will of God. God’s will is for us to die to sin so that we can live fully as the children of God.
But we need to confront death before we will seek a Saviour to deliver us from sin and be reborn as the children of God. When we lose sight of our precious spiritual identity we live our lives as mere human beings enslaved by the fear of death. However, as beloved children of God, the greatest pain and even death are times to experience the love of God. Henri Nouwen wrote:
“For us, the greatest temptation is to lose touch with the Blessing. We are Beloved Sons and Daughters of God. When we live our suffering under the Blessing, even the greatest pain, yes, even death, will lead us deeper into the forgiving and life-giving heart of God. But when we think we are not loved, when we reflect on ourselves as living under a curse, when we say or think: “I am not good,” our suffering will lead us to despair and our death cannot give life.”5
When we follow Jesus to the cross, death become the miracle of the triumphant crossing. Death is the final healing of our afflictions and the end of our physical suffering. Rob Moll found that life’s passing can be a beautiful gift of God. However, we may use heaven as an excuse to avoid unnecessary pain and pretend that the loss of death isn’t real because we will be united with our loved ones in heaven. He shared the following important insight:
“Death is real; there is no need to say that because our loved one is in heaven, death doesn’t exist. Death is a fact, and its sting is painful. So we mourn. But death has been defeated, and, comforted by the Holy Spirit, we ask with the apostle Paul, “Death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (1 Corinthians 15:15:55 KJV”6
The challenge is to live in the light of death with a culture of the resurrection. Al Weir lamented the lack of emotional healing and community support for the chronically ill, disabled, frail and the elderly who lose their community and church connections over time. Rob Moll saw caring for the elderly as an important spiritual discipline for everyone as this will help us face death whenever it meets us. This will also empower us to live more faithfully in every area of our lives. 7 He discovered beauty and blessing in the art of dying as he cared for the dying:
“There is beauty and blessing in being with someone as she moves from this world to the next. As we attend to another believer whose soul is returning to God, we capture a glimpse of the beautiful destiny that awaits us. We are reminded of our need for Him. We are spurred on to live with eternity in view, knowing that it is our living well that will define our death.” 8
The elderly can teach younger people what it means to live a good Christian life and die well in the loving embrace of God’s love. The elderly sick and the dying can still do great things for God when they have a sense of mission and are well supported with spiritual care. We have a mission to live out the following truth:
“For we don’t live for ourselves or die for ourselves. If we live, it’s to honor the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. Christ died and rose again for this very purpose – to be Lord both of the living and of the dead.”9
Death reminds us that our life stories will all come to an end. But we can trust that God will make it a good end when we live by faith in Christ. With the hope of the resurrection of Christ, the darkness of death is turned to light:
“There is a hope that stands the test of time,
That lifts my eyes beyond the beckoning grave,
To see the matchless beauty of a day divine
When I behold His face!
When sufferings cease and sorrows die,
And every longing satisfied.
Then joy unspeakable will flood my soul,
For I am truly home”10
Lord, may I grow in faith and rejoice in hope as I wait for Your Spirit to fill me with Your everlasting love. Help me to live in the power of Your resurrection that I may see Your light in the winter of my life.
- How can I find light in the darkness of death?
- How am I to live that my aging and dying will glorify God?
- How will caring for the elderly sick and dying as a spiritual discipline make a difference in my life and in my community
Song of Praise
There Is A Hope
- Romans 6:23
- Romans 1:29-31.NLT
- Luke 8:50
- Luke 8:52-55
- Nouwen Meditation: Live Under The Blessing, 20 March 2022
- Rob Moll; The Art of Dying, page 132
- Ibid, 161
- Ibid, 178
- Romans 14:7-9
- There Is A Hope, Stuart Townsend