Absolutely everything that has caused the most emotional and spiritual pain in my life has been preceded by Death.

Well now, that’s a pretty drastic and morbid statement…

But it’s the truth. Broken relationships, turmoil, feeling lost or confused, the agony of missing a loved one who is no longer on this earth (a parent, child, spouse, or dear friend), despair, discouragement, depression, grief, the tight-rope balancing act of the “new normal”…all of it a direct result of the literal Grave. Cemetery-gates

Over the past 3 years, I’ve learned a lot about Death and Its power to manipulate the living. Death is a force we cannot fight…it’s inevitable…it will come into your story whether you like it or not. There is no escape from it, there is no magic cure for it, and there is definitely no hiding from it.

I’ve watched Death change my family. I’ve watched Death change my friends. I’ve felt Death change me. You can never truly know the power of Death and Grief and all their emotional havoc-wreaking ways until you have walked in it yourself.

If you’ve grown up in the church, or have attended church for quite a while, you have heard phrases like “defeated the grave” when referring to Jesus being raised from the dead. And you’ve probably thought (as I did), “Wow, that’s awesome. Thanks, God, for Jesus, for doing that for us and giving us eternal life!”, but didn’t take it much further than that.

Well, a few Sundays ago, God took it further for me.

I have sang the song “One Thing Remains” for several years now, more times than I can count. The most repeated line says, “Your love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me.” And yes, that is so true, and important and life-giving! Thank You, Lord, for Your unfailing love, and may I never take it for granted!

But on that Sunday, as I led worship for our congregation, playing this particular song, the second line in the first verse lodged into my heart…and has stayed there for quite a while now:

“Stronger than the power of the grave.”

I always thought of that line in reference to the moment when Jesus rose…equating it with the Easter story and the Resurrection…but until now I never took that line so personally and so relevant to my life. That morning, I felt God saying to me, “Daughter, I know it’s been hard. I know what you’re facing. I know how difficult all these situations are and how they directly relate to Death. But My unfailing love is stronger than the power of the Grave. Yes there is power in Death! But My love is stronger. I defeated it. And I will give you Victory where Death has dragged you into doubt, and fear, and pain. You can’t do this on your own…but you are never alone. I Am Stronger.”

There is Hope through Christ alone. And even on the darkest days when I just can’t see…when nothing makes sense…when the pain is a result of something so much heavier than I can bear…I know my God is a God of Unfailing Love. He is Life, and gives me Life, so that I can be Life to others who need it too. 

The Grave is strong. But my Jesus is Stronger.