Editorial: Death and Resurrection
It’s hard to feel like you know someone you’ve never met.
Yet, I had the honor of meeting senior student Eric De Groot over the last several days, through the voices and stories of his roommates and close friends while I wrote our feature piece on who he was.
And while I certainly hope you read the piece, I think this is a situation where our words, no matter how expertly crafted, fall short.
As hard as I try, my words can’t paint the full picture of the stories his close friends told me: the dazed face of a housemate, the extended silence while they searched for words, a firm handshake at the end of an interview and the pained eyes of someone who has been through too much.
Death is something we rarely think about day-to-day, and I don’t think many students think about it at all while they’re in college. We’re in a stage of life where our main purpose is preparing for future stages of life. We’re getting an education, taking internships, paying off loans — all so that we can have a fuller life down the road.
It’s not often that I think about how or where that road ends.
The summer before I came to Calvin, one of my close high school friends, Joel Koning, passed away. He was going to be in my math class during my first fall semester and live in the same dorm as many of my good friends from high school.
We came to PASSPORT orientation together and I can still remember sitting in Johnny’s for hours that afternoon, talking about dorm room decorations, our classes, our majors and which choir we wanted to get in.
My world was rocked on that August day four years ago in the same way I think a lot of worlds were rocked this August.
And it brings up a lot of questions we don’t ask nearly enough.
What would happen if I died? How will my friends and family remember me after I die? Am I living my life to the fullest? Am I thankful for every day I’m alive? What is my purpose in life?
Even though I didn’t know Eric, all these questions have flooded back into my mind during the last few days as I’ve listened to the stories from his friends.
These questions hopefully push us to be more caring, to spend more time with people we love and to appreciate every day we have to live.
But they also can be overwhelming — the face of death is overwhelming.
Death chips away at a lot of the purposes we have at this point in our lives, like getting a good education, landing a good internship, making a lot of friends and building a resume.
I can’t help but see almost every reason I’m living fall flat at the face of the unavoidable death that’s coming at the end of my road.
Almost every reason.
The one reason that does not fall flat, the one reason that spits in the face of death and the one reason that gives life to every other reason I have to live is the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It’s the resurrection that overwhelms the overwhelming. It’s the resurrection that enables us to mourn unexpected death with an undeterred hope. It’s the resurrection that strengthens us to stand in the face of immense pain and loss. And it’s the resurrection that gives us the courage to live on when we know that the end of the road could be around the next turn.
Even though death makes us appear small, fleeting and insignificant, God reminds us that we have a vital part to play in a much bigger story, a story that makes death fall flat. It’s the hope we find in the resurrection that gives purpose to the day-to-day life we lead.
And it’s the resurrection that lets me look into the eyes of Eric’s close friends, knowing that they will see him again and, someday, I’ll get to meet him too.