I am sitting here in the Nashville airport waiting for our flight back to L.A. Its been a blur of a week. This past Monday morning my brother-in-law Dan Wise died suddenly from cardiac arrest. He was 36. I’ll never forget those surreal moments during the family viewing on Thursday, looking down at Dan’s body, so still and peaceful and, and then looking up at pictures of him playing on the slide show, so young and vibrant and full of life. As I was looking at that body and having to remind myself, “that’s not Dan anymore,” I kept feeling not only the sadness of the situation, but the strangeness. Death is not only tragic and painful. It’s also just so plain weird.
The good news is that Dan knew Jesus, and he is now in heaven, no longer plagued by the illness and difficulty that effected his life here. As I think about those pictures of Dan as a child, so full of vitality and life and joy, I remind myself that those are only the faintest echo of the vitality and life and joy that Dan now enjoys. The verse that keeps coming into my mind as I think about Dan is Revelation 21:4, where God promises to wipe every tear from the eyes of his people in heaven. When we were studying heaven this summer, it occurred to me that this verse seems to be promising not merely the cessation of earthly grief, but consolation for earthly grief. I can’t fully imagine what kind of perfect comfort is entailed in such a graphic image. I don’t know what kind of experience it would be to have God Himself speak healing and peace directly into the deepest wounds of your soul. But I know that there is no earthly grief that could be too great for that healing. As I reflect upon the wholeness and life that Dan must now be experiencing, I’m reminded of the hope that we have in Christ, and how no experience we have in this life can extinguish that hope.