Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Reign of Death and Dying

by Stacey
On Monday of this week, I walked into a mud hut where the body of a young woman lay. She had an unknown medical problem that had plagued her for some time. I had intended to go visit her that very day to pray for her healing, but apparently I was too late. I walked into the cool, dark room and saw many women sitting around its edges, all looking at the body, weeping. Some were sitting on benches close to the ground, others on sacks, and some on the dirt floor. The deceased’s mother was kneeling by the side of her bed looking hopeless. The young woman was beautifully dressed and lying in a large bed freshly made with colorful sheets. She looked peaceful and beautiful. I noticed she was holding what looked like a staff with bright green leaves coming out of the top of it. When I asked a friend what it was, she said it was used to stop the rain so that the family could all grieve together, sleeping around the grave for a week.

When I arrived, someone was filling cups up with some type of clear alcoholic substance and about 30 minutes later, a different lady started handing out little baggies of alcohol. I saw the mother of the deceased wash down some prescription medication in between gulps of vodka and other ladies started snorting a powdery substance. This entire week, there has been a deep grief that has hung over our village. People smeared themselves with dirt and wailed. The family got together to try to decide what to do with the four kids that she left behind.

I realized this week that funerals are such a big deal here because it is a time to express not just the sorrow over one life lost but also to wail over how many lives are lost here every day. They are a time to cry out that this world is not as it should be. Poverty should not be. Children with bloated bellies should not be. Orphans should not be. Malaria should not be. Death should not be. Grieving rituals seem to be an appropriate outcry against the reign of death and dying that has plagued the world since Adam and Eve first sinned. And for a society that knows so little of Christ, their response is quite appropriate. Weeping, wailing and numbing their sleepless nights with drugs and alcohol are fitting for those that see life as a short painful experience before a certain death. It is no wonder that there is no easy way to communicate the idea of “hope” in the Bakoum language.

One day, I hope to communicate to my neighbors that the grieving does not have to go on forever. Yes, there is deep grief and many insurmountable problems in the world, and yet, one day King Jesus will return and make it all right. He is not a Lord who is aloof to suffering but instead identified so intimately with the problems of humanity that he was labeled a “man of sorrows” and someone who was “acquainted with grief.” He died and rose again, defeating death so that it no longer carries with it a sharp sting for those who believe.


Come Lord Jesus.