Psalm 39:4-5 CSB
“LORD, make me aware of my end and the number of my days so that I will know how short-lived I am.  In fact, you have made my days just inches long, and my life span is as nothing to you. Yes, every human being stands as only a vapor. Selah
My brother passed away last Wednesday night, January 9, 2019, unexpectedly after a family dinner. He was 47 years old a loving husband and good father to his daughter, Gianna. Everyone close to him were shocked. My parents came up from North Carolina for closure and funeral arrangements. I cried many tears over the past few days regarding his passing. As a family we began the grieving process.
Yet, as a Christian, my brother is at perfect peace and at rest (R.I.P.). In Matthew’s gospel it is written:
Matthew 11:28-30 CSB
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
There is no more pain, suffering, job stress, responsibilities to be done, he has found wholeness and shalom. Brandon Andress writes:
“Beauty can, and will, come from this wreckage and devastation. But sometimes, it may not be apparent to you, or even apparent to you in your lifetime.
Suffering, as an end destination, is nothing but wreckage and devastation and hopelessness. It is a wasteland where nothing good is found and where misery and brokenness reside. It is the valley of the shadow of death.
But suffering, as a transformative passageway, is the ground upon which beauty flourishes, where hope is birthed. It is the morning light, the dawning of a new day, from which the first hopeful rays break over the distant horizon of the valley that causes the darkness to flee. You may not trust these words right now, but there is hope in your pain and suffering. From the outside looking in, pain and suffering as a transformative passageway where beauty begins to spring forth, is completely counterintuitive. It is upside-down thinking to the logical mind. But for the contemplative seeker, for the humble mystic, it is the power of God that brings life from death.” (Beauty in the Wreckage: Finding Peace in the Age of Outrage, Kindle loc. 4161-4183)
Life will come from my brother’s death, and it can be an agent of transformation. My brother was a confirmed Lutheran, and one of the things that Lutheran’s believe about the rhythms of life is that it is contained within death and resurrection (Romans 6:3-4), death and rebirth (Titus 3:5).
Revelation 21:4-5 CSB
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away.  Then the one seated on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new.” He also said, “Write, because these words are faithful and true.”
My hope is God will make all things new through my brother’s passing. Each and every one of us will learn something through it. Our lives are a vapor in the grand scheme of things, and everything is impermenant.
Ecclesiastes 12:7 CSB
and the dust returns to the earth as it once was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
Barbara Brown Taylor writes from her book, Learning to Walk in The Dark, about the cloud of unknowing, and the closer it seems we are to God, the more uncertain this life seems to be. Questions go unanswered, dogma or doctrine that seemed certain now leaves us some doubt, when disease seems to be cured, another ailment pops up. She writes:
“Among the other treasures of darkness I have dug up along the way are a new collection of Bible stories that all happen after dark, a new set of teachers who know their way around the dark, a deeper reverence for the cloud of unknowing, a greater ability to abide in God’s absence, and—by far the most valuable of all—a fresh baptism in the truth that loss is the way of life. ” (Barbara Brown Taylor, page 186)
So, as I close this article, by faith I know that my brother is at perfect peace and rest. He did believe that Jesus was the Messiah and that God raised him from the dead (Matt 16:16, Romans 10:9-10), so for those that come from Evangelical circles, he was a Christian. Even if he wasn’t, he is included just for the fact that he is human. The Gospel is never about our performance or works (Eph. 2:8-9), but is about what God did on the cross of Calvary as an outpouring of love where sin and death were finally defeated (1 John 4:7-16). Thus, perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18). William Paul Young writes:
“Here’s the truth: every person who has ever been conceived was included in the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. When Jesus was lifted up, God “dragged” all human beings to Himself (John 12:32). Jesus is the Savior of all humankind, especially believers (1 Timothy 4:10). Further, every single human being is in Christ (John 1:3), and Christ is in them, and Christ is in the Father (John 14:20). When Christ—the Creator in whom the cosmos was created—died, we all died. When Christ rose, we rose (2 Corinthians 5).” (William Paul Young, Lies People Believe about God, pages 118-119)
Thus, all of us are included (the inclusive gospel) regardless if we are good enough, made the confession that Jesus is our Lord and Savior, or if we don’t believe in God, all of humanity is included in God’s redemptive work. We as humans do not have to fear death. Death is not final, but only the beginning of eternity. Yes, since our lives are like a vapor, we need to make every opportunity to love well, to be the people that God has called us to be, and to be a blessing to those around us.
My brother will surely be missed. At the company he worked for, they will need to hire three people to replace him to do what he did. He loved his wife and met her needs in a way that she could only receive, he was good dad and loved being a big kid to his daughter. He was good friend to laugh with and watch Blue Jackets games with. He made an impact on the world. He accomplished what the Divine had set him out to do.
I love him deeply and miss him, yet there is a hidden treasure for the living in this loss.