The Sting of Death

“He must have known something was wrong because he pulled off the road. But by the time anyone got there, he was gone.”

“She must have been getting ready for bed and her heart stopped.”

“He never woke up.”

“He died while picking strawberries.”

I have heard all these statements. They are the accounts of death. In each case, it is not the grim reaper who came to visit but the precious, loving, hand of God who came to lead His child home.

Death. We fight it with all our might. We eat right, exercise, live smart, but in the end, we all die. It can’t be avoided. It can come as a harsh reality or as an answer to prayer. It can be sudden or a long-awaited end. But it will come.

As born-again believers, we look at death as the doorway to a better life. I love the way, Don Wyrtzen portrays it in his hymn, “Finally Home.”

 When engulfed by the terror
Of tempestuous sea
Unknown waves before you roll
At the end of doubt and peril is eternity
Though fear and conflict seize your soul

But just think of stepping on shore
And finding it heaven
Of touching a hand and finding it God’s
Of breathing new air and finding it celestial
Of waking up in glory and finding it home

When surrounded by the blackness
Of the darkest night
O how lonely death can be
At the end of this long tunnel
Is a shining light
For death is swallowed up in victory

Years ago, I had the most amazing experience.  I was traveling through the Lehigh Tunnel on the Pennsylvania Northeast Extension. The weather is often quite different between the north and south ends. I remember heading into the tunnel, not really thinking about the weather. But when I came out the other side, I couldn’t see a thing. The morning fog was brilliantly illuminated by the hidden sun. It was like driving right into a cloud, and I couldn’t help wondering if that is what it would be like to close your eyes to the darkness of this world and open them in heaven.

But just think of stepping on shore
And finding it heaven
Of touching a hand and finding it God’s
Of breathing new air and finding it celestial
Of waking up in glory and finding it home

Last week, while heading to Wednesday night prayer meeting, the sky was exactly how we would think it would look when Jesus returns.  The sun was behind a bank of clouds, spaced perfectly to allow the sunrays to streak to the hills below. Each cloud truly had a silver lining, and in the center of it all, where the sun was situated behind a thinner cloud, the spot just glowed. I could almost see Jesus right there, saying, “Come on! It’s time!” Glory!

Either way, are you ready? As the cliché says, “I’m hoping for the upper taker, not the undertaker.” And as we watch our world spin out of control politically, socially, ‘common sensically,’ I can’t help but wonder if Jesus’ return is imminent. How exciting that would be! But regardless, we will do well to keep studying His Word to allow it to guide, comfort, challenge, and assure us of the reality of God. We also need to keep busy about His business. Take these two verses and wrap them together, and you will find all that you need for this life:

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. John 14:1-3

I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. John 9:4

(And don’t forget to start here: John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.)

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