Today marks one year since my nephew Hayden passed away. He was fifteen years old. During worship this morning, I thought of him often, especially during the offering in music when two young adults played “How Great Is Our God” on the piano and violin. I was moved and provoked in the best of ways.
I could not help but think about how the splendor of which I was thinking was at that very moment being beheld by my nephew, not by faith, but by sight. The angel songs of which I long to hear, my nephew is participating in. The sin with which I continue to struggle, my nephew will never know again. He has faced the stingless death. He has realized what it means for “death to be gain.”
Yet, hearts are still heavy. The pain of loss is still real. The nagging feeling of “something missing” has not subsided. At a glance, I see him in the face of a stranger or in the smiles of his little brothers. I regret not going golfing with him more often. I miss my nephew, and my family misses a son, a grandson, a brother, a nephew, a cousin, a friend, a hunting buddy, a golfing partner, a drummer, a jokester, a servant, and a whole great list of other things that Hayden was to us.
There is something about the death of a close loved one that brings the reality of eternity to bear upon one’s life with sobering power. Things that use to seem like “big deals” are viewed as petty. In the best of moments, I tend to overlook the “little things” that use to irritate me with my sons because there just isn’t the time for such triviality. In another and more deeper way, though, the death of a loved one presses us to evaluate the truthfulness of our, often fair-weather held, beliefs in the Word of God. When unexpected crisis interrupts a Saturday evening with horrifying news, it is in that moment that the unthinkably good, wise, and sovereign LORD of all beckons us to take Him at His Word and believe from the depths of our hearts that “all things work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.” In this moment, faith is truly the “assurance of things hoped for and the confidence of things not yet seen.”
The good that God intends to bring out of the death of my nephew is certain and eternal, though in it is fullness, not completely revealed in this life. I doubt that we will know on this side of eternity why the LORD took Hayden or what the LORD intended and continues to intend to do through his death and the testimony of his family. While the details of God’s intentions are not fully available to us, God’s merciful nature is clearly revealed to all in His Son, Jesus Christ. What is certain is that all, like Hayden, must put off the perishable in order to put on the imperishable. Jesus Christ, who is the first-fruits of this defining act of full redemption, will return and all who trust in Him will be raised from the dead. Then we will sing, “O death, where is your victory, O death, where is your sting.” Till then, may our song ever be, “Even so, come LORD Jesus!”