Stretching Out Its Hand
I pick up the phone and introduce myself asking for permission to come in. The voice on the other end of the line graciously grants permission. I hang up the phone on the wall and the double doors make a clicking sound. I pull on the door and it opens. I walk down the hall observing nurses and medical staff doing what they do best, giving life sustaining care (and in some instances life-saving care). I glance through the window into the room. Monitors beep and show jagged lines indicating blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen levels. Tubes flow rivers of medication, fluids and oxygen. Family members surround the bed. Others are gathered in the corner. They look toward me when they feel the door open. I walk in reverently. This is holy ground.
I cautiously ask, “How are things now? Where is this headed?” The doctor rarely gives a time range. It could be this evening or tomorrow or next week. Usually it is soon. A tumor is growing somewhere inside the body. It is attached to an organ and is causing pain. Even worse, it is cutting off life. The doctor used the word inoperable and that dreadful sentence, “There is nothing we can do.” Tears trickle down the faces of most of those standing there. A nurse enters the room. He checks the beeping alarm on the IV pump. He speaks to the spouse, but the words are meant for all of us. “Stay as long as you like. Let us know if you need anything.” Death is stretching out its powerful and ugly hand.
Crushed by Jesus
But it is not over. It may feel like these moments are the last, but they are not. And Easter is why. Many years ago, death stretched out its powerful and ugly hand toward Jesus and it took Him down for a few days. And then just before the sunrise on Sunday, people tell us that they went to His tomb and were shocked to find the stone was moved away and the tomb was empty. Then He appeared to them. It was not a hallucination. It was real. Jesus was alive! He not only broke the outstretched hand of death, but He shattered it into a million pieces. That was the last time death stretched out its hand toward anyone like a bully. From that first Easter until now, death has found itself on the short end of a leash. It is no longer in charge. Jesus conquered death.
“I am the resurrection and the life.”
“Because I live, you will live also.”
Hope in Grief
Fear not death. Christ has given us life that is greater than death. It is eternal life.
This family grieves, but not as those who have no hope. They will deeply miss their loved one. But they know the best days are not behind them. They know the best days are ahead of them. For now they live in anticipation looking for the day when death will be no more. Easter changed everything.