“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
– 1 Corinthians 15:55
On Wednesday, May 1st, my friend’s 13 year-old son passed away. This event tangibly imprinted in me a most indelible picture of walking immersed in God’s resurrection power.
Even though Jonathan had struggled with a heart condition since birth, he lived as a young man full of hope and vibrancy. His father, Philip, is a man of tremendous faith. In that faith, Philip was resolute to bring about an abundant and forward looking life for his son, whom he named Jonathan, which means “the gift of God”.
Over his short life, Jonathan has been admitted to intensive care 52 time and overcame great odds of physical paralysis. I have never seen him project himself as a sick person and he always greets me with that infectious smile. He regularly served other underprivileged kids at Teen Challenge alongside his father. He was passionate about music and dreamed that he will one day lead worship with Hillsong United. He carried a mature sense of gratitude, reflecting a sobriety in the knowledge that everyday he lives is somehow under the hand of grace and nothing can be taken for granted. Yet, that gratitude also projected a child’s innocence – undemanding and free spirited, always leaning into the hope tomorrow may bring. Jonathan was baptized in water baptism on April 20th, poised to run his life’s race, just 12 days before the Lord took him home. It seems that the spark of destiny was snuffed out no sooner than it has been ignited.
God, teach us Your heart in this because we lack wisdom – for our greatest comfort comes from understanding Your purpose, Your desire…
That understanding came as I began to prepare the opening prayer for the funeral service. In piecing together the messages of death and resurrection from the past few weeks, I came to realize that this service can bring comfort not only through remembrance, but also through celebration. God has called us as walking witnesses of His resurrection power. When death comes to us, whether as a death of the body, aspiration, relationship, vision, opportunity, career, wealth, reputation, or capability, we as Christ’s witnesses can celebrate because we have entered the “zone” for resurrection. Being immersed in the resurrection power is to take death as God has intended it to be – as the pathway to a greater regeneration of who we were and what we had – a greater manifestation of His might in us. We celebrate in that fact.
Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?
Where, O death, is your fear?
Where, O death, is your authority over us?
You, O death, are a necessary stopping point in our journey to resurrection;
While the world submits to your fear, we celebrate in God’s designation of you as our tool to manifest a greater witness.
Lord, we pray that You will open the eyes of Philip and his family to the resurrection power they are now immersed under. For Jonathan’s death has not only prepared him for a future resurrection, it has also brought his surviving family into a “zone” to experience a greater regeneration of the hopes and aspirations that seemed to have died with him. May all of us be lifted up by this family’s testimony and we celebrate in the “deaths” that immerse us in God’s resurrection power.
Blessed be the Name of the Lord. Blessed be Your Name.