The Agony of Death and the Comfort of God

Written on May 15th April, 2015

My day-to-day in the past weeks has been a series of emotional highs and lows. In this reflection I will focus on the lows: darkness, despair and despond. While reading a blog post from John Piper’s Desiring God’s website, the post Worship in the Dark drew me to the words in Psalm 88. In many ways, this psalm has brought to my heart and mind some of the emotional agony that the loss of my brother has resulted in. The lows of this emotional roller-coaster are different many times but based on the reaffirmed reality of life on earth: That our experiences here on earth will be colored by troubles. This is the same reminder that Jesus gives his disciples in John 16:33 prior to his taking up his greatest obstacle but our greatest pathway to a ransomed life, that is the Cross.

The Agony of Loss based on Embodied Reality

In such moments as have been the past weeks, these trials have been real. The agony of never seeing one whom you have more than been acquainted with; the natural smell still lingering in the bedroom; the TV screen now black with no sounds or pictures emanating from the various documentaries/videos/movies that he would be enjoying; the lack of the easy bounce of his feet to come with a greeting to check up on you; the abrupt end to any more forthcoming family trips with him; the sorrow written on the faces of the rest of the family; the downcast gaze and half-smiles, that betray the fullness that is now only an intangible memory. At times tears have rolled down my cheeks as my heart has sought to reconcile all this. In these times, words could not come out of my mouth as I would only with gasp-filled groans moan the absence of Brian. The flesh has an attachment to the realities of the physical presence and realities here on earth, because somehow our experience for now is embedded upon embodied realities. And hence happiness and security here on earth is based on those things that we can touch and feel, and experience with our senses. Hence, such a departure of a loved one causes deep agonizing and missing.

Light has overcome Darkness

The writer of the Psalms here laments at his sordid state. Like many of us who have faced or may be facing trials of these kinds, the heart-cries here are personalized for us. They are not far-fetched rants but far-reaching laments. Our whole body and soul responds to these trials in fullness of agony. The Psalmist shows us that this is okay and normal. As opposed to other Psalms which end in praise, this one ends in pity. What encourages me is that God is not afraid of the Dark, which seems to be the central point of the blog post above from Desiring God. In fact, elsewhere we learn that darkness is as light to our Father (Psalm 139:12). Further, it is this same Jesus who promised trials here on earth who promises peace in the midst of these trials in the same verse in John. This peace is founded upon his overcoming of darkness and trials: the grandest ones being sin and death (1 Corinthians 15:26, 55-57). Hence, this Cross of Jesus becomes a symbol of Light overcoming suffering, sorrow and sadness. How much more consolation can one receive except from the one who has suffered Himself?

Comfort, Comfort . . .

While I agonize about the loss of my brother, I am consoled by the Trinitarian Godhead: How much agony must it have caused the Godhead for the Son to be separated from this harmonious 3-in-1 coexistence in order to enter humanity? I am not the first one to have experienced this loss, and because the three-in-one has experienced this, I can find consolation and comfort that can come from Him (2 Corinthians 1:3-7). He is aware of all my thoughts and dispositions in this season without me even having to utter them, and He welcomes my utterances to Him since He is familiar with them and can empathize. Even in this agony, comfort exists in abundance. My part is humble submission and quietness of heart to appropriate this comfort into the gloomy valleys of my heart that I may sometimes find myself in as a natural response of my body. Even in agony, comfort exists. “Comfort, comfort Kevin says my God” (Isaiah 40:1)

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