But Thanks Be To God

It was Friday August 19th. I’ll never forget the telephone call. “Is this Darin? Son, you need to go home. Your mom needs you.” I didn’t recognize the voice on the other end, but I took her seriously. When I arrived home I was greeted by a stranger. This lady hugged me–I had no idea who she was. “My mom?” I asked. “Over there,” she pointed. Mom sat between a couple of family friends, everyone crying and passing tissues.

The news that my dad had died suddenly that morning took some time to sink in. For several hours I was convinced that I would wake up and find that it had all been a dream–that Dad would walk through the door after work like he always did. Dads don’t die leaving sixteen year old sons behind, do they?

Late that night I picked up my Bible. I was a relatively new believer in Christ with a relatively new Bible–hardly opened it before that night. Inside the cover I noticed my own writing: “1 Cor. 15:55-57 – Graverobber.” I had penciled that in during a conversation at church but I couldn’t remember why I wrote it. I looked it up hoping to jog my memory.

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

I was drawn to the word ‘but’. Death, grave, sin, sadness–BUT–thanks, victory, life.

The night bled into early morning for me as I read back and forth over 1 Corinthians chapter 15.

So it will be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown perishable will be raised imperishable.  There it was again: death, grave–BUT–new life, new hope!

As a minister I’ve lost count of how many funerals and memorial services I’ve officiated. Several have been for friends I’ve loved dearly. I must tell you, I’ve been blessed in each occasion to consider and reconsider the certain hope that we have in Christ. 1 Corinthians 15, 2 Corinthians 5 and 1 Thessalonians 4 have fed my grief full portions of life and light. A little ‘but’ goes a long, long way!