TUESDAY NEWSDAY -- Yesterday the U.S. surpassed 500,000 deaths from COVID-19. President Biden observed that, in just one year, more people in our country have lost their lives from the virus than in World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam war combined (Reuters, 22 Feb 2021). Today I post with sensitivity, because I know many of you are intimately acquainted with death and have walked many heartbreaking, lonely miles in its shadows. This isn’t meant to oversimplify its complexity or dismiss the crushing blow it deals out. It’s also not a “cheer up and have faith” reprimand for those struggling. Nope, it’s just me sharing the thought that God views death very differently than we do. I attended many funerals when I was little and somehow came to believe that not expressing (perhaps even not feeling) sorrow was the way a person showed faith. Fortunately, at some point I was taught that “Thou shalt live together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die” (D&C 42:45). Not only is sorrow the natural outcropping of love, it is a *commandment* to love others so deeply that we can’t help but mourn their loss! I love the idea that “death is a mechanism of rescue”—normally it’s framed as something to be rescued from! Our bodies must experience birth, death, and resurrection to attain immortality. It’s the essential bridge between mortal and eternal life, and a necessary step toward becoming like our Heavenly Parents. Because of Jesus Christ, we don’t have to experience or fear eternal separation from our bodies or our loved ones: “Until Gethsemane and Calvary, death was a punctuating, rigid exclamation point! Then death … curved—into a mere comma!” (Elder Neal A. Maxwell, April 1994). Not one of us will escape death, and due to it’s crucial role in progression, our eternal selves wouldn’t want to. How does death rescue us in other ways? Perhaps motivation, release from suffering, or the wisdom of perspective (because death doesn’t just change the one who dies). Even the benefit of having angels to minister to us in our time of need. What does death as a “mechanism of rescue” mean to you? How is it a sign of God’s love?
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