There are many movies of ghosts who haunt the living. Sometimes the ghosts are stuck, sometimes they are seeking justice, and sometimes they just look with longing on those who are alive. In fact, in one YA novel, the ghosts can even “possess” the bodies of those who have given up in life, giving the ghosts another chance of living in a physical body. The idea that runs through these stories is clear, life is precious and those that lose it grieve its loss.
Of course, we would all agree with this. It is clear that life, given to us by God, is something we should value and protect at any cost. But, I sometimes wonder, if perhaps we don’t have the whole picture. I wonder if, in fact, we are grieving on the wrong side of the grave.
I like to imagine a different story.
One where a person dies, but then this person then has a whole new perspective. They see that they spent their whole life fearing death, but it was actually a doorway to something greater and more than beautiful than what they could have ever imagined. This person’s response to the grieving of loved ones left behind might be different from what we’d expect. Maybe, instead, this person’s grief for those left behind is actually greater than their grief for the one who died.
Let’s think of it this way–what if we could crawl back inside the minds we had inside the wombs of our mothers. To us, the life we lived inside would be the only life we knew. We would have grown up here, learned things, figured out how things worked. Then one day, things change. It gets uncomfortable, and then, we are squeezed out. This would be terrifying, something to mourn, but, as we now know, this is absolutely necessary in order for real life to begin.
For us, death seems so fearful–an end to all we know. In this, we can all relate. There is none among us who thinks death is something to look forward to. However, if we look in Scripture and, in history, we see many believers who had a totally different view.
Charles Spurgeon states, “Never fear dying, beloved. Dying is the last, but the least matter that a Christian has to be anxious about. Fear living – that is a hard battle to fight, a stern discipline to endure, a rough voyage to undergo.” In reality, the hard part is not ahead of us, the hard part is right now. We grieve believers who have passed on, but might they not grieve for us?
For all the preciousness of life, this is meant to be temporary.
Everything around us screams its finiteness, but we still do our best to make things last forever. Are we in danger of grieving on the wrong side of the grave? Are we trying to make this our home instead of our passing through?
God instead wants us to look forward, realizing that what He has prepared is so exceedingly superior to anything we might experience in this life. Revelation 24:4-7 captures this in a description of heaven:
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.
This is a vision worth waiting for! If we live our lives looking forward to something, instead of being afraid of losing something, there would be no need for grieving on either side of the grave.