By Chaplain (Capt.) Rob Cox, 2nd Squadron, 16th Cavalry Regiment, 199th Infantry BrigadeJanuary 9, 2019
FORT BENNING, Ga. (Jan. 9, 2019) -- In this week's CHAPLAIN'S CORNER, Chaplain (Capt.) Rob Cox, 2nd Squadron, 16th Cavalry Regiment, 199th Infantry Brigade, talks about how his faith has helped him deal with death.
As a Chaplain, I often have the bittersweet honor of sitting with a family who has lost a loved one. It seems that, like other chaplains and ministers, I'm near death way more than I would prefer and more than most others. One of the ideas that I've reflected on is the wrongness of death. Death should not be. We all have a visceral reaction to the death of a loved one; it tears at our guts. We can be undone by the thought and often torn apart in our grief. Indeed, the apostle Paul tells us death entered in with sin. Death is not natural.
Paul goes on to addresses the concept in the book of 1 Corinthians. In Chapter 15 Paul reminds us that death is an enemy. God knows that it is an enemy. God knows and understand the wrongness of death. And Paul tells us that God has a plan to defeat that enemy and to right the wrong. The first phase of that plan is complete. Jesus, God's only son, has died. But God did not leave him in the grave. God brought Jesus up from the grave bringing him back to life. In doing that God began the defeat of death. Death will end through Jesus. But more than that, those in Christ will be raised up like Christ was raised up. The hope that Paul points to is that Jesus, in his death got rid of the sting of death by getting rid of the guilt and judgement for sin. Trust, hope and rest on the truth that Jesus the son of God died and in so doing took away the guilt of sin for those who trust in him and will give them eternal life.
But if you are like me, you know the Gospel. You believe it deep in your gut. But deep in your gut you are torn at the loss all around us. Maybe it is your loved one who has died -- a parent, spouse or child who has died, or the loved one of a friend. Maybe you are torn even by the death of people you don't really know, like the death of people going out to dance in a club or a National Guard Soldier from Utah.
In being torn you are more like Jesus than you may know. The recording of the emotions Jesus displayed are few. Jesus got righteously angry at the currency exchangers at the Temple in Jerusalem who were blocking people's ability to worship. He drove them out in a cold, calculated manner. He paused to weave together the whip he would use to clear out the temple. Another primary time he displayed emotion was upon the death of Lazarus his friend. Jesus simply wept. Showing, displaying and being true to your emotion is part of being human. We were created to feel and respond to those feelings. In the face of death, Jesus wept.
Jesus allows us all to grieve in a full, emotional way. Often our tendency is to lean too hard toward the stoic side of emotional intelligence. We overcorrect in self-management by containing, controlling and pushing back down the deep emotions that death draws up. Or we overcorrect on the theology side and try to tell ourselves and others that, "She's better off," "His suffering has ended" or "He's with Jesus." In doing those things it seems that we are trying to avoid the pain of death or at least cover it over.
The good news is that Jesus did not avoid that pain of death. Through his death he covered over sin, the thing that Paul reminds us, "let death in." Jesus gives you the freedom to grieve. He gives us the hope of the "death of death" and life for those who have died.