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.