Few among us have not been shaken to the very roots — wounded to the very depths of our being by the death of a loved one. Even the great of this world have experienced this traumatic trial. General Douglas MacArthur said of the death of his father: “My whole world changed that night. Never have I been able to heal the wound in my heart” (Reminiscences, page 44). His brother died suddenly in 1923. He later recorded, “I loved my brother dearly and his premature death left a gap in my life which has never been filled” (Reminiscences, page 23). Death claimed his mother in 1935. The General wrote, “Within two months after our arrival in Manila my mother died, and our devoted comradeship of so many years came to an end” (Reminiscences, page 113).
Sir Winston Churchill wrote, “My father died on January 24  in the early morning…. All my dreams of comradeship with him, of entering Parliament at his side were ended. There remained for me only to pursue his aims and vindicate his memory” (My Early Life, page 62).
And remember King David’s experience. He besought God for his stricken child’s life with seven days of fasting and prayer. When the child died, David discontinued his fast — resuming a normal life. His servants were amazed and asked why. David answered, “… While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether God will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me” (II Sam. 12:22-23).
King David had the right approach and attitude about his son’s death. He exemplified the New Testament scripture which tells us to “… sorrow not, even as others which have no hope” (I Thes. 4:13). Also, the very fact that General Douglas MacArthur and Sir Winston Churchill so amply fulfilled their respective roles in life proves they did not continually reflect back on the death of close relatives in a morbid manner. Of course, to sorrow for a little time is natural.
And yet — even when our perspective about death is properly in focus — there is still a gap, a certain void in our lives when a close member of the immediate family or a good friend is removed from us by the sobering occurrence of death. There are few better experiences in this physical life than having your family and friends about you — rejoicing with them — sharing the vicissitudes of life. And yet every family relationship has been broken by death.
When one member dies, he cannot be replaced. He is a unique being. There will never be another Jim or Joe or Helen or Mary. True, one may resume a normal life, get absorbed in activities, cultivate other close friendships, even remarry. But, there are those inevitable moments when we reflect back on previous relationships with deceased loved ones — their personalities — how they were — what good times we had together.
Notice the Patriarch Jacob’s experience. His other sons sold his favorite son Joseph into slavery. They deceived Jacob into thinking Joseph was dead. His reaction? “And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days” (Gen. 37:34).
The void continued in Jacob’s life for many years (Gen. 37:35; 42:36-38). Later Jacob learned that Joseph was yet alive (Gen. 45:26). He went down to Egypt to see him. Notice this remarkable reunion. “And Joseph made ready his chariot, and went up to meet Israel [Jacob] his father, to Goshen, and presented himself unto him; and he fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while. And Israel said unto Joseph, Now let me die, since I have seen thy face, because thou art yet alive” (Gen. 46:29-30).
Jacob was so happy to see his son Joseph again that he felt his mission completed in life. (Actually, it was not. He had 17 more years to live and some crucial prophecies to pronounce that are still being fulfilled today — many centuries later.) He later told Joseph, “I had not thought to see thy face [again]: and, lo, God hath shewed me also thy seed [your children]” (Gen. 48:11).
God’s Sure Promises
Does God have this same joyous reunion of families in mind for his sons and daughters who overcome and are born into His Kingdom? The answer is an unequivocal “YES!” It is as sure as the rising of tomorrow’s sun.
Remember the words of David: “…I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” What did David mean by “I shall go to him”? David was talking about a reunion with his son in a resurrection. Let Christ clarify. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live” (John 5:25). Continue: “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all [not part] that are in the graves shall hear his [Jesus’] voice, and shall come forth …” (verses 28 and 29). Jesus said, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25).
This is a sure prophecy. The dead shall live. The gap will be closed. The void filled. The wounds healed. Families permanently reunited in the resurrection. Listen! “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Rev. 21:4).
Source: Tomorrow’s World, January 1972