14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.John 3:14-16 (NKJV)
These past few months, many of us have been touched by the death of friends or loved ones. We’ve been surprised and dismayed at losing so many who were close to us.
While there was a time when death was referred to as the last reward, you seldom hear that expression today. It is almost as though our entire culture, Christians included, are in denial about the inevitability of death. When a friend or loved one is diagnosed with a terminal disease, we refuse to speak of it, tap dancing around the subject and even assuring the ill person that they will soon be well, even when the end of life is quite obviously imminent.
This may be understandable for non-believers who think this life is all there is, but for those who believe the Scriptures, who have faith in the everlasting life to come, the transition from this life should be the next great adventure. Of course, those of us left behind (for now) will miss our loved ones. Their passing will leave a hole in our lives. But acting like death isn’t real won’t keep them with us.
As I sat with a family member in the last stages of cancer, I yearned to speak of the Next Stage of life, to help her anticipate a reunion with those who had gone before, and to make these last days ones of hopeful anticipation rather than fear. However, my tongue was paralyzed by the ingrained taboo against even acknowledging her approaching death. I couldn’t even tell her how much I’ll miss her.
It’s only natural to be uneasy about the unknown, the unfamiliar experiences. Doubts come flooding in at such a time. What is needed is encouragment, and assurance of God’s promises, not denial, false optimism, or avoidance.
Shouldn’t we be able to at least discuss with our fellow believers what we and they hope to find in Eternity? While we don’t wish to shorten anyone’s time on Earth, once the end is in sight looking forward with joyful anticipation must surely ease the experience.
7 For we live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.2 Corinthians 5:7-9 (NIV)