Just a few days ago, my uncle went home to be with the Lord. His cancer was predicted to become increasingly painful; and so we know God was good. But we weep nonetheless, we weep.
He was my mother's baby brother, six years her junior, age 79 at his death. He had a deep voice--a voice I won't hear again this side of Glory--and a personality and presence I will miss. Whenever he and my aunt visited Mom, their familiar, mingled voices always took me back to childhood days.
Since my uncle's death, I've once again been examining my own understanding of exactly what happens to Christians when they die. An exhaustive search of Scripture has yielded comforting affirmations of what I know to be true through faith. Nothing can separate us from Christ (Romans 8:35-40). Jesus will never lose one of those entrusted to Him (John 18:9). Departing this mortal life to be at home with Christ is better by far (Philippians 1:22-24).
When we depart from our mortal bodies, we will be safe in Christ in a similar way to how a blossom is safe inside the bud. When the time is full, the bud will open and the blossom will break forth. "The perishable will clothe itself with the imperishable" (1 Corinthians 15:42).
When I apply my mind to understanding all of this I soon come up against a roadblock, and that is the fact that I am flesh; and flesh cannot comprehend things of the Spirit. In the same way that a dim star disappears when I look directly at it, and yet can be perceived when I look a bit to the side, I must look aside to what I can perceive with the physical senses in order to attain a beginner's understanding of spiritual truth. In what has been created, the Lord has drawn for us analogies to things of the spirit. God's invisible qualities are visible for us through creation (see Romans 1:20).
In the end our comfort comes not from what we know, but from who we know. It is only as we gaze steadfastly into our Savior's face that the fears we feel in the face of death begin to subside.
Scripture: "Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day" (2 Timothy 1:12).
Listen to the hymn "I know Whom I Have Believed" at Cyberhymnal.com