Millennial Christian Reflects on Death: Suffering Aches in Absence of God

A cemetery of cross-tombstones
A cemetery of cross-tombstones (photo:
By Christine Lau January 10th, 2024

I was drawn back into death meditation recently when a female believer, whom I hadn't seen in a long time but was quite close to, died in a car accident.

As a young, optimistic, energetic, and smiley female believer, this sister served willingly at church with thoughtful care of the believers around her and did her best for every task at work. Such a wonderful and diligent believer was lost in a car accident.

The first time I dealt with death was during my college years, when I joined a fellowship to restore my childhood faith. Just when I enjoyed God’s power, authority, love, and mercy, my father suddenly told me, “Grandma passed away."

My grandmother inspired my faith by her faithfulness, which led to my conviction of God's existence and His accomplishment in my prayer, as well as my faith in Christ.

Her passing was undoubtedly a bolt from the blue for me at that time. I couldn’t figure out why she was gone just when my faith was recovering. Isn't it true that I needed her more?

When I shared with a female believer about my grandmother's death, she told me about her aunt and grandfather, both of whom were Christians. Her aunt had shed a few tears after her grandfather died, but she laughed more. "(I know) you were gone to a better place, where we will meet in the future," her aunt often said.

Death struck me again two or three years after I stepped into the working field. I couldn't stop crying when I learned that my grandfather had died.

In my childhood, I was not that close to my grandpa. But as I grew up, I became willing to get close to him, which deepened our relationship. He was very pleased with my every visit and insisted on seeing me off. "Where has he gone?" I asked God several times.

Finally, God responded, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me,” which freed me from the painful past while directing my focus on Jesus.

Earlier this year, quite a few elderly people died from COVID-19. My maternal grandfather was already 94, whom we didn’t dare visit on the Spring Festival for fear of getting him infected. However, he still succumbed to the virus in June, for which I blamed myself hard, as I had visited him a month before his passing but let go of the best chance to preach him the gospel at the thought of there still being chances.

I repent of not trying my best to preach the gospel to my family, of constantly postponing, of failing to seize time and chances... Death once again reminded me of the importance of grasping every opportunity to share the faith.

The loss of the aforementioned sister also prompted me to reflect on death again. When faced with death, we often ask God, "Why does this happen?"

Sometimes we get answers and comfort, just like the mother of this sister, who got grace and comfort from the Lord in the days after the car accident. “Xiaoxiao (the dead’s pseudonym) always did her best to get everything done. She was always busy serving God, which caused her back to ache often. I guess God lets her rest by lifting her to His mercy."

Sometimes, we may not have answers, but God always finds a way to get us back on our feet. Sometimes we may fall into pain and weakness, but God is always present and supportive.

We cannot explain suffering, just as Job could not get an answer to his questions regarding its meaning. However, he experienced God amidst the suffering and saw Him with his own eyes.

I considered it: the problem of suffering is not in the absence of a reason or response for suffering but in the absence of God.

- Translated by Poppy Chan

related articles