In Remembrance

Queen Elizabeth died on September 8, 2022. As the longest reigning British monarch, her passing leaves a massive void in the United Kingdom and that of the entire world. The Queen represented the stability of an institution and a British cultural identity. When you think of England, your mind immediately thinks of the Queen, and therefore, you could say that the U.K. and the Queen were one and the same. The Queen was a constant presence on the world stage, and we can’t remember when Queen Elizabeth wasn’t on the throne.

However, that is all different now. Her son, Charles, has ascended to the throne, and the call, “God save the Queen!” is no longer heard or relevant. Now it is “God save the King!”

Having such a high-profile figure die puts a needed truth before the eyes of the watching world—a fact that we often try to ignore. Yet it is an unescapable reality and will visit each of us at some point. Death is ever-present here and indiscriminate of who it will take. Regardless of status in life, death is the great equalizer.

Furthermore, Queen Elizabeth’s passing also reminds us of another truth, the change that comes about because of death. In her case, the U.K. and the world will forever be different. Those of us who have lost someone personally can attest that our world is never the same without them. The Queen’s death means a loss of her presence, ending her legacy, and a time of upheaval and change within the nation. When someone we care about dies, we experience the same, albeit on a much smaller scale.

Since death is ever before us and creates such dramatic changes in our lives, how should we respond to it?

First, we should acknowledge that it happens. Denying the reality that people die or refusing to face it when it occurs only exacerbates and prolongs the grief and pain of loss. The Bible clearly states that death has not only entered our world but has plagued it since our first parent Adam sinned in the garden of Eden (Rom. 5:12).

Second, since death is a reality here, we should prepare to make our lives count with the brief time we have left. As the Scripture teaches, your life is but a vapor—here today and gone tomorrow (James. 4:14). Making your life count is not so much about pursuing little things like worldly success or completing your bucket list. Those things are transient, and those joys are fleeting at best. As the Westminster Catechism states, our lives here are to “glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” I am often reminded of what C.T. Studd famously wrote, “Only one life ‘twill soon be past; only what is done for Christ will last.”

Third, in response to death, we should grieve. This almost seems like a given, but it is not often done. I’ve observed families so busy with funeral arrangements and the like, that they do not take time to grieve. I remember giving pastoral counsel to such an individual who retorted, “I don’t have time to grieve! There’s too much to do!” The Bible clearly presents a time of mourning. For example, when Joseph’s father died, he spent seven days in mourning (Gen. 50:10). This was not unusual, and this extended time to mourn is repeated in various places within the Bible. The Apostle Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 that we should grieve with hope. It is important, if not necessary, to take time to process grief and not rush to get back to a sense of “normalcy.”

This leads me to my last point: Ensuring you have hope for eternity. Hebrews 9:27 says, “For it is appointed man once to die and then comes the judgment.” Since death is a reality, so is eternity, and people spend it somewhere. The arrangements for that eternity are to be made now, not later, and are wholly dependent on what you do with Christ in your life. Believe upon him; eternity in heaven is yours. Reject him; hell and condemnation are yours. Those are the choices, and they are to be made on this side of eternity.

When we said, “God save the Queen!” I pray that we meant it and that God did, but I also pray that he saves King Charles and others as well.

 

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