From our first chicken nugget, death is a taste in our mouth. God graciously gives us roadkill, too. Last night’s murder downtown, plastered on the news…yes, that story is for you to ponder death. History lessons are littered with body counts generated from despots at war. We live in a world of death, and there is much more death in our vicinity.
The Bible makes clear that death is man’s enemy, and it will be the last enemy defeated by Christ, at His coming. That is good news because death seems to have its stinging victory most days. I have reached the age where I daily read the obituary, as my dad did before me. Everyone you meet today has a death sentence upon them. Someone you know has or will execute that sentence upon themselves.
Death is a bizarre paradox. One column of news has a murder that destroys the victim’s family. Another has the controversial police shooting, and yet another has some thug killing a cop. Quietly and strategically next to the school or library, a mother walks into Planned Parenthood to murder her own baby. Yes, that is in the same town where the young, single mom leaves her five-month-old baby boy in the care of her crackhead, vagrant boyfriend (not the father), who smashes the baby’s skull to quiet him, so the man can smoke in peace.
Death has an appointment with every man born of a woman. Not even the Son of God avoided the enemy of life. In fact, the Bible records only two men who were taken, apart from that experience. Death is a sure thing.
The famed physicist, Stephen Hawking, left his final sentiments before his own death, suggesting the universe will someday fade into utter darkness. No doubt his followers will accept his prophetic word, as Christians will recognize the irony of an atheist’s prediction of outer darkness, being appointed for the followers of the prince of darkness. Clearly, Hawking did not see the light.
The Bible seems to reserve hope of deliverance from this recognition of darkness, for witnesses of light, that illumines a new life, without fear of death.
The removal of the fear of death, a significant motivational factor in both human activity and passivity, actually introduces the hope of death. The fear of temporal death is the anticipation of eternal death (the Bible calls it the second death) in hell. When the presence of the Spirit of Christ indwells the regenerated heart, the believer looks to the promises of eternal life, from the Author of life. These promises from One who is truth, and who is able to keep them, has its powerful effect.
At one time or another, most Christians will express their longing for death. Far from being a mental illness, requiring a psychologist, thoughts of hope for death are natural and normative to the Christian experience. Even Christ experienced present suffering, amidst anticipated joy, as the hour of death drew nigh.
Self-murder is prohibited by God, but it happens, even with Christians. It is not the unforgivable sin, but it is our spiritual family responsibility to help those tempted by Satan, “to solve their problems by ending it all.” Suicide is a lie, but people fall for it.
Hope for death is a healthy sentiment that places no confidence in the flesh (Phil 3:3). It devalues the frenetic claims of the world, as to its self-importance. It faces reversion into fear by openly acknowledging hope. It puts death in its proper place, as a mere doorway for the weary saint to enter his family home (Eccl 12:5). This is the very reason the anticipation of death has such allure.
The world is a carnival, filled with clowns and cotton candy diets. It is a freak show run by a demonic ring master (Jn 12:31; 14:30; 16:11), who blinds the tired children with flashing lights (2 Cor 4:4), exhausts them with wild rides and haunted experiences. So be not alarmed when your brother expresses your own heart. He is merely saying, “Daddy, I am ready to go home (Phil 1:23).” Our Father in heaven knows that sentiment, and He knows the hour of our departure and arrival (Ps 139:16). Thus, we must wait on the Lord, in hope, with anticipation of better things to come.
Spokane Valley, Washington
March 26, 2022