It has been a tough week. June 22 is always bittersweet for me as it is the day my sweet mom went home to be with the Lord. Life has been difficult without her and her presence in our lives is missed daily. This year has been especially hard as I also lost my 20-year old kitty on Sunday. So today, I’ve been six years without my mom, and six days without my cat. I hate death. I’m tired of this life where death plays such a prominent role—so much more than it used to, it seems. When I was little, death used to be a sad but expected event that happened to someone’s grandma. But now our society seems to be saturated with it. Whether it is thousands killed in ethnic cleansing in a country half way around the world, or millions of pre-newborn lives snuffed out by the choices of their mothers, or the hundreds who succumb to cancer despite all of our medical advances, the reporting of death is such a common occurrence that we are mostly numb to it.
Yes, death is a sad and tragic reality of life—inevitable and unavoidable and—permanent. Or is it?
Actually, in some cases death is not permanent. In fact, there is a cure for death. To understand this concept though, we have to go back to the beginning—back to where life first started.
In the beginning, there was no death. Man was originally created to live forever on a world that was full of life. We (as in mankind) were as they say, “fat, dumb and happy.” We were in charge of our world, and had the run of it. We walked with God, and had direct communication with our Creator. But unfortunately, that life did not last. Due to our own poor choices we were removed from that world and barred from ever returning to it. Through our own choices, we traded the presence of God for the presence of death and it’s been with us ever since. If this were the end of the story it would be bleak indeed, but God loved us so much that he put a plan into motion that would clean up the mess we had made. That plan would involve a restitution that would not only redeem us, but would crush death in the process. Yes, there is a cure for death and it might surprise you to find that the first mention of it shows up in the book of Genesis. Just after God confronts Adam and Eve about their sin, he doles out punishment and then specifically addresses how the Father of Death would be defeated at a certain point of time in the future.
So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” Genesis 3:14-15, NIV
As soon as redemption became necessary, God introduces his plan to mankind. He would send the “he” who would take the punishment for our sins and permanently defeat death. The “he” alluded to or concealed throughout the Old Testament, is revealed in the New Testament in the person of Jesus Christ.
Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet. All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment. Psalm 22:16-18, NIV
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:5-6, NIV
Life in Christ is the cure for death. All Christ-followers who experience physical death will be resurrected to new life. And all who are still alive when he returns will meet him in the air and be transformed.
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, NIV
God promises that we will live again in perfect physical health, similar to the resurrected state in which Jesus appeared to his disciples after his death. For those who accept Christ, death is forever defeated.
When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 1 Corinthians 15:54-55, NIV
For those who reject Christ however, death still awaits them. While accepting the free gift of eternal life should be a no-brainer, many people willingly choose not to. Our enemy is a powerful deceiver and in waiting for his own judgment, works daily to take as many people with him as he can.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8, NIV
Sadly for these people, there is no victory over death and it will be a permanent condition for them. Even more tragic is that life is freely offered to anyone who wants it.
He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.” Revelation 21:6-7, NIV
On the anniversary of Mom’s home-going, I am sad but not hopeless. I know that I will see her again, because Christ has conquered death. Her life in him guaranteed that her physical death will never be a permanent condition. There is a cure for death and his name is Jesus.
On the journey toward Home,