This week a friend visited a funeral home and then sent me a few thoughts afterwards: “I think I may have mentioned to you how much I have struggled with the fears of losing loved ones. Now God is showing me that He can be with me as I face those fears. I am developing a different time perspective. Life seems very short in comparison to what is ahead.”
The fear of death hits us all in different ways. Some people dread the suffering that may come before death finally arrives. Others fear the moment of death itself because they aren’t sure what will happen next. And most of us share the fear my friend expressed, the fear of losing a loved one.
Sometimes I hear well-meaning people say that death is a “natural” part of life, like the leaves that fall from the tree, becoming mulch that gives life to new leaves that arrive in springtime. I know why people say that and it is true in the sense that death when it finally comes can be a welcome release from earthly suffering.
But death is not really “natural.” Death doesn’t come from God. Death reigns because Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden. Death comes to all of us because we live in a sin-cursed world. And death is only “natural” if you think that sin is “natural” and “normal.”
How we long for a day when death finally dies, for a place where we will be set free from having to say goodbye with tears while our loved ones are buried in the ground. At the present time death is still the “last enemy” of the people of God, but according to 1 Corinthians 15:26, death itself will one day be destroyed.
I have the utmost respect for the men and women who work in the funeral industry. They perform a valuable service (one that most of us would not care to do) for grieving families. But they will all be out of work someday because there are no graves dug into the hillsides of heaven. If you make it to the city of God, you will never die.
A few days ago I spoke with Mabel Scheck, a longtime member of our church who has amazed us all with her cheerful faith as she battles with cancer. She told me that several weeks ago she thought she was going to die. “Were you scared?” I asked. “No,” she replied, “I felt like I was flying to heaven.”
With regard to death, there is bad news and good news today. The bad news is that we’re all going to die someday. The good news is, if you know Jesus, when you die you go straight to heaven. Or as Steve Meyer puts it, “If you know the Lord, you’re never really dead.”