When I was about 8 years old, I tried to deny the reality of death. It happened at my grandmother’s funeral. Seeing her lifeless body in the casket, I recall thinking, If that should ever happen to me, I’ll just get up and walk away.
I am now almost 70, and I look at death differently. I’ve officiated at many funerals. I’ve said farewell to both of my parents, all of my aunts and uncles, and many friends. I can no longer deny the harsh reality of death. It rips apart life’s closest bonds, leaves hearts broken, ushers in loneliness, and opens floodgates of tears. Using pleasant-sounding words and calling funeral services “celebrations” do not change that.
There is a greater reality, though, that can give us the will to go on living with hope. Jesus Christ broke the power of death. He did “get up and walk away” from the grave. And one day this “last enemy,” as Paul called it, will be destroyed forever (1 Corinthians 15:26). He said it like this: “‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?’ The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (vv.54-57).
Praise God! The death of death is sure!
Oh, death of Christ—the death of fear!
The death of condemnation!
Oh, life! His gift to trusting souls—
Eternal, free salvation! —F. Hess
Because of Christ's empty tomb, we can be full of hope.