When Death Dies

“That cemetery is really small, isn’t it?” my wife asked, gesturing toward the right of the busy intersection.

She was right; the space was very cramped, almost as if the cemetery were an afterthought. Looking over the lot, I noticed something else. Just past the fence that surrounds the property, glowing through the gaps between the headstones of the deceased, was a big red sign that said, Donut Delight.

A donut shop stands less than twenty feet from the perimeter of a grave yard. I have driven past this for years and have never considered the juxtaposition. It’s bizarre.

I picture a group of old men getting together every week for breakfast. They sit by the window sipping coffee. They split a box of chocolate-frosted eclairs and stare out into the field of death, trying not to number their days.

That is what you call an existential breakfast. It sounds like a Samuel Beckett play.

So, why would anyone surround an old cemetery with restaurants and small businesses?

Because life goes on. One day we will all be in fertilizer, but while we’re here, we all have to eat and buy and work. So, pour the concrete and put up a donut shop.

Death is a part of life, right? It’s inevitable. Accidents happen. Old bodies fail. People kill people. We’re just used to it.

Take the news, for instance. “Three young men gunned down on the city’s west side. The shooter is still at large. And now, over to Jim for the weather forecast.”

Do you know why our minds can flip from fatal shootings to the doppler radar report in less than thirty seconds? Because we don’t know the parties involved.

That’s why I have passed the same cemetery for 27 years without giving it more than a glance. None of my loved ones are buried there. But, I’m sure there are people who break down every time they approach the intersection, because there lies Grandma or Dad or Charlie.

No one likes cancer, but you don’t start hating cancer until it shows up at your house. That’s when the threat of death becomes more than an inevitable someday.

It is at this point that we start to see death for what is really is: a thief. It robs us of joy and love and valuable relationships.

We should hate death. Jesus does; he died to conquer it. More specifically, he died to conquer the sin that causes death.

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. (1 Corinthians 15:21-22 NIV)

Because Adam—AND Eve, ladies—disobeyed God, sin entered the world. Sin brought death to all living things, but the crucifixion of Jesus Christ was offered as a payment for that sin, and his resurrection stands as proof of his total power over the grave.

This is the hinge that all of Christianity hangs on. If Jesus didn’t raise from the dead, “then our preaching is in vain and our faith is in vain.”

But, I believe he did, and attached to this belief is a promise.

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.
(Revelation 21:4 ESV)

For those who put their faith in Christ, one day these mortal, fragile bodies will be replaced by the immortal. All things will be made new.

Death will die. Murder will be murdered. Cancer will get cancer, stage 4. Inoperable.

Until then, I have my eyes set on a future without the pain of loss, a world with no cemeteries to wreck the view from the donut shop window.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Photo Credit: Sean Bagley (Creative Commons)

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One response to “When Death Dies”

  1. Melanie says :

    That God is faithful to turn our monirnug into gladness. He can take this tragic experience and make beauty out of it by giving me understanding and compassion for others and teaching me to cherish my family on earth even more.

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