To those who call themselves Christians, but weep such hopeless tears: do you not believe that God is unchangeable, but think he acts one way one time and another way another time just from caprice? He might give back a brother to sisters who were favorites with him, but no such gift is to be counted upon? Why, then, do you worship such a God? If Lazarus were a mere exceptional case, it is worthless indeed—as worthless as your behavior would make it. But you are dull of heart, as were Martha and Mary. Do you not see that he is as continually restoring as taking away—that every bereavement is a restoration—that when you are weeping, others, who love as well as you, are clasping in ecstasy of reunion? If you have not learned this, you cannot have been doing the will of the Father, or you would not be as you are. If you reply, how little I know your loss, I respond, indeed it is great! It seems to include God! If you knew what he knows about death, you would clap your listless hands. But why should I seek in vain to comfort you? You must be made miserable, that you may wake from your sleep to know that you need God. If you do not find him, endless life with the living whom you bemoan would become and remain to you unendurable. The knowledge of your own heart will teach you this—not the knowledge you have, but the knowledge that is on its way to you through suffering. Then you will feel that existence itself is the prime of evils, without the righteousness which is of God by faith.
Death and Loss
by Diane Adams
I collect seeds. My desk is littered with sharp brown seeds, shaped like stars, and with the tops of long grass and dandelion puffs. There's something about holding a seed in my hand. Inside a fading, tiny package is the mystery of the life force--the thing that passes 'aliveness' from one piece of matter to another. You can actually hold it yourself, this thing called life. When a seed dies, when it rots and falls apart and is buried in the earth, that is when the life inside blazes into being. And it passes down and around, again and again. Life from death, rebirth, resurrection, lying scattered around with piles of papers, chocolate wrappers and half-read books.
From seeds to sunsets, from the turning of seasons to the growing of gardens, existence itself teaches us the principle that for life to be born, death must come first. I believe this is to help us through the valleys, the times of loss where we cry out to the sky in pain and dismay. The human instinct to fear death and loss is powerful, and no matter what we learn it tends to remain. To counter this fear, God has literally written the truth in the sky, on the ground, under the ground, for those with eyes to see it.
Out of failure, disgrace and loss, life is born. Without death, nothing can live. When the griefs of life overwhelm us, when the broken dreams and lost chances stack up overhead, we can see hope in this principle regardless of how bad things are. That God seems to have an almost obsessive need for ‘encrypting’ this message into creation itself, this principle of life using death to gain power, serves to remind us that death is never the end. He is working to convince us over and over that every loss, large or small, is fertile ground--an opening for life to grow fuller and more powerful than it was before. A gardener puts ashes on his crops because ashes are the best fertilizer. See and believe.