I stood behind a podium in the funeral home staring at a crowd of a couple hundred people. With sweat beading on my forehead, a lump in my throat, and a knot in my stomach, I repeated the only thing I believed could help in this dreadful moment—hope from the Scriptures. Between the crowd and me was a casket that was exactly three feet in length with a child that was way too young inside of it. The funeral of a short-lived life are never easy to officiate.
No matter the age, death is an inescapable reality for all of us. Ironically, many of us fear the death of family and friends more than we fear our own death. It’s this kind of death that produces extreme pain that stirs our emotions to grasp at any hope we can muster to cause our hearts a brief moment of rest from the affects of brokenness over unbearable loss. In the midst of this grasping and searching for the right words to help others, or to even to soothe our own souls, we tend to believe and say things that are not necessarily biblically true.
Too many times to count, in seasons such as these I’ve heard people say and/or post on social media, “God gained another angel today.” This brings on a cause for cringe, but I also strongly believe that it’s not helpful to dive into theological debates while someone is in the midst of extreme hurt. Often, the best thing we can do in these times of loss is to hurt with them, hold them, and just listen. However, in moments when cooler heads and hearts can prevail, we will be significantly more encouraged and empowered by biblical truth than we will ever be by pithy statements. Especially, ones that aren’t even true.
Here is the plain and simple truth. Humans are humans, and angels are angels. This remains so even in eternity. In fact, angels are intrigued by the interaction between God and His “image-bearing” humans: “It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look (1 Peter 1:12).”
It’s actually better for you to be human than it is for you to be an angel. Most Bible scholars believe that the Scriptural accounts of Ezekiel 28:12 – 18, Isaiah 14:12 – 14, and Revelation 12:4 describe the fall of Lucifer (a former angel) and one-third of the angels (now considered demons) that joined his revolt against holy God. What’s sobering about the accounts of these fallen angels is that their judgments were final, with no hope of redemption, forgiveness, or grace. I believe this what the 1 Peter passage is discussing, when he says, “things which angels long to look.” They are astonished by God’s unconditional love for you!