What is it about death that scares us? What causes us to ignore it, for the most part, until death stares us in the face? Our culture tells us death is just part of life, or that it is natural, but that is not how the Bible speaks about death.
Death wasn’t part of God’s original plan.
Death was not part of God’s creation. God was meticulous in His creating act. He formed us from the dust of the earth to live, specifically, with Him. Picture this for a moment: God the Creator of the universe gets down on His hands and knees to form you. Then He breathes the breath of life into your body to give you life.
If this is not the beginning of a personal, intimate relationship, what is? “Then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” (Genesis 2:7). Here are some of the most intimate words of Scripture. We were created to be in relationship with our Creator.
Humanity messed up God’s original plan.
But we all know what happened next. The man and woman decided that this amazing relationship with the Creator of the universe was not enough. They allowed Satan to convince them that their advancement was more important than any relationship with God, and they ate the fruit of the tree. In their eating, they ripped their relationship with each other, the creation, and the Creator into a million pieces. The result of destroying this relationship was and is death!
No, death is not what God had planned for His creatures. It was never meant to be “a part of life.” Death is our enemy. It’s an enemy we hold at a distance and an enemy we would rather not deal with. Death is division, separation, and an unsure reality all rolled up into one.
We can’t stop death, and that scares us.
Death scares us because we have no control over it. We can’t stop it, we can’t determine when it will happen (or at least we shouldn’t), and we certainly don’t understand what happens when death occurs. Yet, on this earth, death happens every single day, every hour, and every second, and it will happen to every single one of us.
Most of us are curious about death, especially when someone dies, but it certainly is not one of those day-to-day conversations we share with others.
Death will happen, but God is in control.
God, our Creator, is the one in control of our life and our death. But God has given us hope in the face of death. In life, in this time and place, we are reunited with the Creator through the life and death of His Son, Jesus Christ. Because of that union we will also be united with Him in our death. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Let’s begin the discussion about death with the realization that death will take place. It will happen. It cannot be avoided. But we, God’s children, live with the hope of eternal life promised by Christ, and if our discussion is centered on this reality, then death becomes less fearful and the topic opens for discussion.
Now, this is not to ignore the fact that death is painful, extremely painful. It tears at the core of our being. It confuses, disorients, and breaks the hearts of those left behind. In fact, it is one of the most painful realities of life.
Death is an unfortunate reality we all must face. But death need not be feared. Death has been conquered; it has no hold over us. We belong to Christ. We are His, in life and in death. Our Baptism has confirmed that reality. It’s a promise of the One who created us, the One who redeemed and continues to redeem us, and the One who sanctifies us. Our reality lies in the reality that Christ lived, died, is resurrected, and now lives in us. There can be no other reality, no other truth.
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
(1 Corinthians 15:55)
No matter what happens to us after death, the promise of Christ can only bring us hope and joy because we will without a doubt be in His presence. Every need we ever had on earth is removed—no thirst, no pain, no tears. Christ becomes our all in all. What a blessing this provides. In a sense, it makes our death a moment we can look forward to with joy and excitement.