A few months ago, I started work as a legal assistant at a law firm, where we represent a lot of folks near death. Occasionally, I’ll be poring through a file and find a Last Will and Testament staring back at me, marked with that austere font associated with death. (I really don’t care what’s written on my tombstone – just write it in Comic Sans. Lighten the mood a little.) Many of the clients with whom I converse aren’t in the greatest of moods. They’re contemplating their mortality for the first time, and it’s scaring them, throwing them off their game, making them impatient and grasping.
They’re looking for something on which to seize.
I’m reminded of an article I read recently, lamenting that modern worship songs rarely speak of death, as the old hymns did. It made me think. Those were the days the world respected God. Now it thinks it’s evolved past the need for him, but I don’t buy it. Death will usually make anyone pause. A high-rise window, a worrisome lump, or a twist of the wheel is sometimes all that stands between us and the unknown. There are no atheists in a foxhole, and all that.
The world is looking for something on which to seize.
Enter Joey Feek.
I confess I was saddened that the 40-year-old country singer passed away this weekend. I had prayed her myself, rooting for her to recover. Part of me wanted to see her healed so that God might be glorified. Part of me felt for her husband and children. And part of me, honestly, wanted to see her healing for the sake of my own faith. Prayer can be hard to believe in.
Heart-wrenchingly, God answered no.
Many skeptics might point to this moment and call it a wasted opportunity for God. “Here was a chance for him to heal one of his own very publicly,” they might say. “Either he doesn’t exist, or he doesn’t seem to care very much.”
I can never pretend to know how God works in the world. But I think of the desperate grasping of the world, and I wonder if anyone can truly see this as a defeat.
What if the absolute peace and optimism with which Joey faced her death could be exactly the anchor the world needs? What if the viral outbreak of her hope is a greater treasure to the world than her continue presence on earth?
It seems so calculating to say such things. But that seems to be exactly how husband Rory sees it. He called her death “a dream come true”. He rejoiced that “this life she’s living might impact the life of someone that she and I will never meet”. He saw beyond.
What if Joey, in letting go of this life, gave countless others something to seize?
The rational and empirical can’t touch this business. No science can look beyond the grave. I urge you, skeptic, to open your mind to the reverberations of Joey Feek’s faith. There is so much more going on here than meets the eye. No circumstance carries more power to test Joey’s faith than the certainty of death – yet she was not shaken. Are you really willing to dismiss this so easily?
And dear Christian who has lost someone to heaven (I’ve known a few lately), allow Jesus’ victory into this season. Grieve you must. Despair you need not. I pray that Jesus will reveal the right posture. It is so difficult to hit. But with his help, you can.
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” – 1 Corinthians 15:26
You can ask nothing more from a Christian than to face the last enemy with unshakable hope.
In a world looking for an anchor for their souls, Joey Feek dropped a whopper. I pray that the masses will seize it. Her hope was her finest song. She was not defeated. She was victorious.
Well done, good and faithful servant.