My friend and colleague, Chuck, is with his family this week, gathered to bring ease–as best they can—as granddaughter Olivia slips from this life. A Trisomy18 baby, Olivia was born to live in this world briefly, a month-long, difficult prelude to eternity.
The reality of the road we’re all walking continues to set in. Grief and sorrow are present. Anger that such an innocent little body should pay the penalty of sin. Yet we know death is the doorway to eternity with Christ and we celebrate that victorious promise! We cannot wait to meet her in Heaven someday and relive these days together. We trust in that hope and confidence that she will soon be in Jesus’ arms, who loves her and gave his life for every one of us bearing the burden of the curse.
Assurance, yet grief. It is common to us who have had loved ones slip from this life to the next, some after long lives, others much too early in our view. Indeed, Jesus shared these very emotions as he experienced—with Mary and Martha of Bethany—the death of his friend Lazarus. In all certainty, he tells Martha: “He will rise again” (John 11:23). Jesus says: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” (John 11:25).
And yet even as He assures his friends of the resurrection, of life (and just prior to bringing Lazarus back from the grave that very day), even then, “Jesus wept.” The grief of death, the palpable sorrow of his friends, the weight of sin, the sorrow of the ages; it weighed heavily on the Prince of Peace.
So with our friends, with Olivia’s mother, father, grandparents and siblings, we celebrate the resurrection, the promise of eternity. And yes, we weep.