…because God did not make death, and does not delight in the death of the living. For God created all things so that they might exist; the generative forces of the world are wholesome, and there is no destructive poison in them, and the dominion of Hades is not on earth. – Wisdom of Solomon 1:13-14 (NRSV, adapted)
I know that it has been a comfort to many to think that God has “taken” the lives of the ones they have loved and lost to death. They “pass” from this life to the next, “called home” by God, “crossing to the other side” of the River Jordan and “freedom” in eternal life.
I won’t write to contradict these comforts for those who call on them. But I do have one nuance to offer:
In the continuum of life to death to resurrected life again, the life part is God. But never the death. God is life.
I appreciate this text from the Wisdom of Solomon. Death is not God. “God does not delight in the death of the living. God created all things so that they might exist,” not to die.
Death is real and present. And whatever language of comfort we might employ (or avoid), the faith of the resurrected Christ is one in which something might kill, but that something is not God.
I believe the apostle Paul is right to say: there is no victory in death.
There may be a sting, though. And if the death of a loved one stings you, the wisdom of this text is this: it stings God, too.
God’s answer to death is God’s answer to everything: life.
Thank you, God, for life, for the force that generates wholeness, for the everlasting antidote to the destructive poisons of the world. Through Jesus Christ. Amen.
Kaji Douša is the Senior Pastor of The Park Avenue Christian Church, a congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, in New York City.