I know we've spent a lot of time on this one verse, and we're getting near the end, so bear with me just a little longer. Things are going to get really good. Unfortunately, we often have to face the "not-so-good" first, which is where today's topic comes in: death.
The word tastes bitter on the tongue. It brings with it images of darkness, tombstones and weeping. It evokes fear and dread. Death is a scary thing, and despite what many well-meaning people say, it is NOT a part of life. It is the very opposite of life. The antithesis. To be dead is to be void of life, so how can death be a part of life?
We were not created to die, though God knew we would. When God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, it was intended to be a permanent residence. They were supposed to be immortal. Death did not enter the picture until sin did. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. (James 1:15) Yes, God knew in His infinite knowledge that man would sin and eventually die, nevertheless, He created us to live.
And that's why He sent His Son to die for us--so that we could live eternally. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23) Because of Christ's sacrifice on the cross, death for the Christian is merely a relocation. It is a departing from this life and an entrance into a realm of life that we can only imagine. It is nothing to fear, for death, as we think of it, has been conquered.
But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. (II Timothy 1:10)
I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. (Revelation 1:18)
God is in control. He is holding the keys. Death no longer has power. It is subject to God's will and God's plan. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (I Corinthians 15:55)
So, for the Christian, death brings new life. It is the end of suffering and sorrow. It is the beginning of eternity. What could be bad about that?
I think that many times, we do not fear our own deaths as much as we fear the death of a loved one. How will we live without a spouse? How can we cope without a parent? How can life ever be worth living when you've lost a child? We miss them. We long for them. We remember the joy we had with them. And in those moments, death seems so cruel, so tragic. But it is then that we must remember Paul's words:
But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. - I Thessalonians 4:13-18)
I'm not saying it will be easy, and I'm not implying that we won't mourn their loss. But I am reminding you that, for those of us who are saved, we will be with them FAR longer than we are without them. We've got God's word on that.
Death is not the end; it's merely Resurrection Ground!