I lost two friends this past week.
Rooster and Midnight.
It is odd to call cats friends; but they were.
Rooster lived his nine lives to the full—outlasting collisions with cars, attacks by dogs, wandering the elements and surgeries. He survived so much in his 20+ years that my siblings affectionately called him “the godfather.” Rooster was the cat my siblings and I were willing to give up vacation for, if it would save his life. He was the cat that would go off for weeks or months or years, so that we began to wonder if he was still alive. Then, he would turn up meowing hello, to our wonder. He was the cat that would follow my dad around the yard as he would mow the lawn and take care of yard debris. In his later years, he would follow my sister around the house as she went to and fro getting ready for work or snuggle up close to her in bed. He was her “baby.” Rooster had his own way of relating to each family member that each of us will treasure, for always.
Midnight was the sweet cat from down the street. She followed my (now) sister-in-law and I as we walked through the woods, never falling behind, though we walked several miles. She always welcomed me to the Holmes home with her friendly meow. She curled up nearby a few years ago as I sat in the yard swing praying though big decisions, sitting content as my hand methodically stroked her black fur.
It is bizarre that these friends won’t be found coming around the corner of a couch or tripping out of the garage to greet me with their pleasing meows.
I wonder at this.
It feels so unnatural.
It is always this way with death, though.
It doesn’t feel right. It just feels all wrong.
And it is all wrong.
It reminds me that this is not the way things were meant to be.
It leaves me longing for home.
For the time before death entered into the world.
It is hard to believe that a lack of trust, a choice to be disobedient, a failure to respond to love began all this world’s pain. But, I do believe it. This world must be broken. This pang I feel, this longing to see life course through the lifeless, it reminds me of it—the brokenness of this world.
It is also hard to believe that someday all will be made right because of Christ. But the pang deep inside leaves me clinging to this hope. Death does not have the last word.
Death does not have the last word, because Jesus did. He does. He will.
He made sure of this in his resurrection.
“On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!” Luke 24:1-6 TNIV
When I trust this, I live in the kingdom that Christ inaugurated, the one of the now and the not yet. In this kingdom, the sting of death is still present now. But in the not yet I will praise God for His victory over death.
In this, there is hope.
"But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death." 1 Corinthians 15:20-26 NIV
I think of His words to Martha after she has just lost her brother.
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?" John 11:25-26 NIV
These are His same words to me.
I am the resurrection and the life. Jessica, do you believe this?
I do. I cling to it. I trust Him. Because in the midst of the pain of death what can console?
Nothing else. Only Him.
He is the only hope.
Someday, Christ will do away with death once and for all.
I long for the someday.
Grace and peace be ours in abundance as we trust that Jesus is who He says He is, as we trust that He lives, as we trust that he has defeated death and that one day death will have no sting. May we find He is the hope that gets us through all things.
P.S. The photos of Rooster and Midnight were used by permission of my sister and my brother-in-law respectively.