Ten years ago, I went to a funeral for my friend. He was eighteen years old. He was stabbed to death in the doorway of his home, and he had died trying to save his sister and his mother.
He died on the way to the hospital. When I got the news, I hung up the phone and threw it across the room. I kicked over a chair and couldn’t stop yelling.
At the funeral, there he was. An eighteen year old life, cut short, dreams gone, a future inside a box.
Three months before he died, he and I were at a Christian retreat together. During one of the services, he received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. I was there when it happened.
At the funeral — we were able to rejoice. It was not an easy rejoicing, but we knew he was with Jesus, in a joyous union that we could hardly comprehend. He’s there now, and ten years has probably felt like ten seconds.
I don’t mean to be morbid, but it’s difficult to connect the Resurrection to our daily lives: until you’re at a funeral. Then it makes sense.
I’m not saying his death makes sense, or that it doesn’t hurt, or that I fully accept what God is doing all the time. I’m saying: the Resurrection gives a hope above and beyond all that happens. It answers our deepest fears about eternity. If Jesus is alive, then a funeral is not really a funeral — and futures do not stop in a box.
The death of death is the Great Reversal of the human story. Even those who overcome many obstacles have to die one day. Jesus reversed inevitability. He is the True Story of the world. He made it okay to dream again, even when dreams seem to die. In the midst of cynicism, Jesus is the “happily ever after” we all secretly long for.
He’s the hope in traffic, in troubled family, in bad grades, in aging, in failed plans, in irreversible mistakes, in overwhelming bills, in second and third chances, in tragic headlines, in our daily struggle. In the shadow of death, his shadow is greater still.
Sean: I’ll see you again soon one day.
Until then: we tell the story.