Matters of Faith: The UpSide To Death

Rev. J_Loren Russell“THE UPSIDE TO DEATH”

A Sunday school teacher asked her 5 year olds questions to help them to understand why trusting Jesus is the only way to get to heaven. She asked, “If I sell everything I have and give the money to the church, would that get me into heaven?” “No,” they answered. “How about if I keep everything clean in and around the church!” Another “No.” “If I love my family, am kind to animals, and give candy to every child I meet?” Another unanimous “No!” Then she asked, “What will get me into heaven?” A little boy shouted, “You have to be dead!”

On this Resurrection Sunday, know that there is an upside to death. When John recorded Jesus’ high priestly prayer (John 17:17-26 CEV), he intended his readers to see that Jesus prayed for all of those who believed in Him, past, present and future. He reveals His will that we be with Him throughout eternity; “Father, I want everyone you have given me to be with me, wherever I am. Then they will see the glory you have given me, because you loved me before the world was created”(v. 24).

This is the prayer that The Lord prayed before He sacrificed Himself for the sins of the world. He prayed for His disciples, for the church, and for all believers. He prayed for what can’t be accomplished through man-made organizations, conventions, associations, conferences, institutions, or movements. He prayed for what only comes through His nailed-pierced hands and nail-pierced feet that held Him to the cross. He prayed for that which only comes when a person is redeemed by the blood of the one who stepped out of the grave, conquered death, and defeated hell. He prayed for our eternal salvation.

In spite of this reassurance, physical death remains a challenge for us. Death presents challenges that can severely test our walk with the Lord. Fortunately, the Lord uses times of deep sorrow and crippling grief to open eyes and unplug ears. We may go through

  • Denial – “This can’t be happening!”
  • Anger – At ourselves, at others, and at God. “They could have done more. I could have done more. God could certainly have done more.”
  • Bargaining – Trying to get back what can never be retrieved.
  • Depression – Realizing that the loss is permanent, we can suffer extreme sadness, emptiness and loneliness can grips our heart and envelop our lives.

You could experience guilt, shock, and emotional numbness to finally arrive at the place of acceptance; learning to live with the loss. Things have changed, but we find a way to move on with life, a way to live with the “new normal.”

For those who are called ‘faithful,’ our new normal is realizing that in this life we have the parakletos (Comforter) who will never leave us nor forsake us. Then, we go home for all eternity with the risen Savior.

Jesus prayed that His followers be where He is in buildings (bodies) not made by hands; eternal houses that will never groan or sigh, get sick or die.  Jesus’ resurrection guarantees life beyond the grave.  

When we experience loss of loved ones, we are comforted in knowing that;

“The death of people whom we love

Brings sorrow and deep pain;

But if our loved ones know the Lord,

Our loss becomes their gain.”Sper

This is the upside to death.


Rev. J. Loren Russell, BS, M.Div., is an associate minister at both Goodwill Baptist and Greater Universal Baptist Churches in the Bronx.

The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Bronx Chronicle, its staff, or contributors.



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