Death is something few of us want to talk about or even think about for that matter. The Bible calls death our enemy (1 Cor 15:26). No surprise there. It is a feared enemy, too. And for good reason. Death is an enemy we cannot defeat, no matter how hard we try. Your chance of death, as the saying goes, is 100%. So is mine. We’re all in the same boat, and despite our herculean efforts to keep the ship afloat, it is going to sink. And we are going down with it, each of us in our own turn.
For the Christian, however, death is not altogether dreadful. For those who know and love Christ, death is not a subject to avoid, but rather one for celebration. There is pain in parting from loved ones, for sure. But that pain is tempered by the knowledge that the parting is temporary.
Beyond their love for one another, what marked the earliest Christians was their positive, even joyous, celebration at the death of their brethren. Not a macabre fascination with ghoulish fantasies about the afterlife so common in entertainment today. Early believers rejoiced because they knew death had been defanged. It was swallowed up in Christ’s victory of over the grave. Because of Christ’s death and resurrection, we too will rise one day (1 Cor 15:20-22).
This does not mean there is no grief at the death of someone we love. Even Jesus cried when his friend Lazarus died. But we do not grieve like those who have no hope beyond the grave. We shed tears, but our tears are mixed with joy, because we know that we’ll be reunited one day and that our loved one is experiencing the fullness of joy in the presence of God.
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints, (Psalm 116:15).