Between opinions on Death
I hate death. Having been once again called to minister to one of our church members at hospice, I again was reminded how much I hate death. Death is an intrusion into creation purchased in the garden by the rebellion of our parents. It is out of accord with what should be and though it follows each of us until it catches us, it is out of place.
And, the only way to beat death is to die. In death we move beyond death. Only in death do we win over death. The sting, (the hard, scary, and most painful thing), of death is removed, 1 Corinthians 15. We do not fear meeting God because sin’s debt is paid; God’s wrath was poured out on Christ who suffered in the place of all who believe. So in our death, we enter eternity and the glorious presence of our Savior…this is one of those “all things” that work together to the good of those who love God. It ends well for those who die in Christ. But death is still an intrusion, a judgment of God that was required by both his wrath and mercy.
God, by death, judges sin while also making the escape of this sinful fallen world possible through the death of his children. At death we move to an eternity that is separate from the curse of the fall—beyond sickness, sorrow, troubles, temptation, failures, heartache, grief, and all that makes life sometimes seem more like a walking death. I hate death but more and more understand the sentiment of Paul when he said: “to depart is better”. It seems that death is my friend and foe at the same time.
Death is reason to grieve, to experience sorrow, to hurt all the way to the bottom of your being because of the loss of someone you love. And while it is popular in some circles to say that the funeral is for a celebration of life and not grief, I disagree. Rejoicing over the gift of life does not require the absence of grief. Each time death catches one of us it leaves the rest to ache for the loss.
But each time this enemy finds one of us who loves Christ, its greatest moment and apparent victory is turned to good. As death seeks to push us out of life, God lays hold of us to thrust us into everlasting life. In Heaven death is not allowed, nor are any of death’s friends such as sin, sickness, despair, sorrow and all else that flows from that fowl fountain of depravity.
And so, I have mixed feelings about death. It is a certain, intrusive and unwelcomed foe and also a welcomed beginning of life that is without death and death’s friends. To die is gain not because there is any good in death itself but because God takes this intruder and makes it the means by which our depravity is laid aside and entrance into heaven is obtained. This balance of thought is the means by which I walk toward my own death and continue to minister to the dying and then the families of the deceased. The death that we hate is not to be compared to the glory that will be ours in the life to come.