By Leow Yew Chong
One of the greatest pain and anguish in this world is to bury one’s own child. All hopes and dreams that parents have for the child would be extinguished the moment the news comes in. The blame game on how, what and why begins. No amount of tears seems sufficient to drown the sorrow that a parent feels nor can any words express the pain that envelopes the heart. Life seems so futile and meaningless to them.
This is compounded further with the realization that one will never see the child ever again. Where is peace and love? Why is God so unfair to deny oneself the opportunity to say goodbye and to tell the child that he or she is loved unconditionally? Life has lost its purpose and is without hope.
In time, the parents will also pass on, and as the scripture says “the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished; nevermore will they have a share in anything done under the sun” (Eccl 9:5-6). The late Mr Lee Kuan Yew have similar views as stated in his book, One man’s View of the World. He said, “I wish I can meet my wife in the hereafter, but I don’t think I will. I just cease to exist just as she has ceased to exist”. Everything will disappear and be gone forever.
If life is just all about this world, and about now and here, then the love, pain and suffering that each of us goes through are so meaningless. Why the necessity of doing good or conforming to a certain expectation in life? The hedonistic lifestyle is more appealing, isn’t it? “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!”
To a Christian, however, death is not the end of life or annihilation of the soul as some think. We believe and know that we will reunite with our child or loved ones again. David told his courtiers that his dead child will never come back to him but he (David) will go to him (2 Sam 12:23). The knowledge that there’s an afterlife is strong in the scriptures. We read of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Gen 25:8; 35:29; 49:33) being gathered to their people, upon breathing their last.
Jesus told the Sadducees that God is the God of the living and not of the dead (Matt 22:32). Why is that so important? Because we read in Eccl 9:5-6, that the dead have no memory, no more reward, their love, their hatred, and their envy have all perished. But the living have all these feelings and emotions. Hence we can understand and believe that it was truly Moses and Elijah who met Jesus during His transfiguration (Matt 17:3; Mark 9:4; Luke 9:30). Jesus further reiterates this with the account of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16:19-31.
Christians have this eternal hope that as Jesus arose from a terrible suffering and death on the cross, and never to die again being the firstborn from the dead, we too will live with Him and be restored a new glorious body as He was. We will meet all those who were gathered before us and be with them forever (Col 1:18; Phil 3:21; 1Jn 3:2; 1Thess 4:13-18). We will recognize each other and converse and sing songs of praise to God who saved us (Luke 9:30-31, 16:19-31; Rev 7:9-17).
Therefore it is imperative that this message of hope is imparted to all so that we can be with our loved ones when our journey on earth has ended. The suffering that we’re enduring now is for a moment and temporary. It seems unbearable and confusing to us, but God understands and knows what we are going through daily. He is beside us even as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. (2 Cor. 4:8-18; Psalms 23; 1 Cor. 10:13)
We are never alone even though we feel very much alone. We are never forsaken even though we feel that the world and our friends have forsaken us. God had promised Jacob, Moses, Joshua when they were alone and fearful, that He would never leave them nor forsake them. This promise is repeated to us in Heb. 13:5, therefore let us hold on to this promise of a God who cannot lie and comfort those whose knees are trembling and feeble.