Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
By Chris WittsWednesday 24 Feb 2021Morning Devotions with Chris Witts
I’m sure you know about the very popular kids TV show Sesame Street. What an enormous hit this has been for millions of children who have watched it right around the world. The people involved said if you can hold the attention of children, you can educate them.
What I found most interesting is that one of the popular adult characters, Mr Hooper, disappeared from the show. He was played by Will Lee, who died of a heart attack in 1982. He was loved by the children, and the producers faced a big problem. How would they deal with this topic of death to their 10 million viewers, most of whom were under the age of six? It was a tricky situation.
Experts in child development warned the producers not to say, He got sick and died, because you don’t always die when you’re sick or He went to the hospital and died, because people go to the hospital all the time and usually come out alive. So they devised a special episode to teach their young audience of death’s reality—Mr Hooper will not be back, and he’ll be missed. It’s OK for children to grieve when someone they love dies. They wanted to assure the kids that death brings out a lot of emotions like sadness, anger and frustration.
Death Is Not a Pleasant Topic
This topic of death is huge, and we prefer to think of more pleasant topics—but the reality is always there, that death is with us all the time. Do we take the time to explain to children what death is all about? Madonna, well-known in pop and contemporary music around the world, was talking one day about her mother who died when she was young:
My mother’s death was just a big mystery to me when I was a child and no-one really explained it. She was really religious, so I never understood why she was taken away from us. It just seemed so unfair. I never thought she had done something wrong; so oftentimes I’d wonder what I’d done wrong.
Death is a mystery that puzzles many people.
Are we better prepared for the eventuality of death? I don’t think so. Earlier generations were better prepared to deal with life’s heartaches. It used to be a custom in Russian villages when a child died to have a mourning hut at the outskirts of every town. All women who lost children were sent to live in the hut for a month of solitude and grief. At the end of the month the hut was set on fire, and the woman had to decide: do I live or die? If she came out of the burning hut, this indicated that she was prepared to live, and she then rebuilt the hut for the next mourner.
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With Jesus, Death Is Not the End
The Bible tells a story of a man named Lazarus, who was a friend of Jesus. It’s found in John 11:1-40. Lazarus lived in a village called Bethany and had two sisters, Mary and Martha. He was sick and then became gravely ill. The sisters called for Jesus to come, but he waited two days, and Lazarus died. But it would be four days since Lazarus died that Jesus met up with the two sisters, and they were upset.
They believed that Jesus could have done something, and he said, “Your brother will live again”. What they didn’t know was that Jesus would perform an amazing miracle and bring Lazarus back from the dead. And he uttered these staggering words:
I am the one who raises the dead to life. Everyone who has faith in Me will live, even if they die. And everyone who lives because of faith in Me will never really die.
These were the words of a Saviour, Jesus Christ the Lord. Here is the answer to the death problem. With faith in Jesus, even death will not destroy us.
Mary and Martha experienced the devastation of losing their brother—they knew what separation and loss was like. Just because you’re a friend of Jesus does not mean you will not get your heart broken. Mary was angry with Jesus because he had not come earlier. And John, the writer of the Gospel account, says that Jesus shed tears as he considered his friend’s death. Jesus called Lazarus from the grave and granted him the gift of new life. This is true, and it’s amazing. Not only new life beyond the grave, but new life here and now, today.
Is there no greater gift than having a second chance to live? New life. His promise is true for us today, whoever believes in me, though he dies, will live. Jesus is the resurrection and the life. If we are committed to him, death is not the end. We will live in heaven for eternity as he has promised.