I hate death. As a pastor, you're surrounded by it. This past week, my own grandmother died. On top of that, I have a funeral in just a few hours, and I have a member in critical condition who doctors didn't have much hope for. I just found out today that the granddaughter of another member is on her death bed. Death, I hate it. When it isn't staring us in the face, it still makes its presence known: through sickness and disease, through broken bones and concussions, through broken relationships and hatred, through heartache and loneliness. Death covers us all, from the moment we are conceived to the moment it finally takes us when our body gives out.
Thankfully, death does not have the last word. Though our bodies wear out like a garment, in the moment of our death our souls are whisked away. To where exactly I do not know, and how it happens I cannot say. What I do know, without a doubt, is that however and wherever, they are with Christ. My grandmother is with Christ. My church member is with Christ. The granddaughter will be with Christ soon. And if the heart fails my other member, then he will also be with Christ. Death can only harass and harm us so much, but Christ can do much more!
For those who believed in Him have moved from death to life, and our lives are hidden in Him. Christ, who conquered death when He rose from the grave, will never die again! In Christ, death has become a mere portal, a door that we are brought through from this life to be with Christ. Even more, in Christ death is but a sleep, a rest from our labors as we have cast off this body of flesh. We will no more toil and labor when we are with Christ in death; we will no longer be harassed by the effects of sin. When we are hidden in Christ, we will be out of death's reach forever.
And then, one day, as surely as the morning dawns, Christ will return in glorious victory. All those who have gone before us in the faith will rise again, their bodies transformed into glorious bodies in which there is no weakness of flesh! All those we love who have died in Christ will be there. Those who are alive at His coming, will be caught up with Him and their bodies, too, will be transformed. Then, we will see Him face to face, with our own eyes! On that day our salvation will be made complete, as Christ banishes death forever!
Death, I hate it. But I know that it does not speak the last word. It is Christ, who is the Word, that has the final say. O death, where is your sting? Where is your victory? For I in Christ we are more than conquerors, and even death cannot separate us from Him who loves us. Amen.