The day we are born, we begin to die. It’s a given fact of life, yet one which we spend much of our lives trying to ignore or defy.
The writer of Ecclesiastes wrote “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die . . ”. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2)
Later he writes “Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb, and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand. ” (Ecclesiastes 5:16)
In the New Testament, the writer of James says “You do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14). We are like the morning mist that is burnt off by the rising of the warm sun.
In the letter to the Galatians, Paul writes “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” Galations 6:7-9
This speaks of eternal life, abundant life now and eternal life beyond the grave, being a reward from God. Yet eternal life is not a reward for our works, but a gift of God. In Ephesians 2:8 is says “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast”. As we put our faith in Him, He rewards us with eternal life which starts today.
Should we fear death? Let’s look at what happened after Jesus died – his discipled hid, they were fearful and scared. Yet, when they heard the news about His resurrection, they find new hope. “He is not here, he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay”. This hope that they now had is seen clearly in this quote from Paul “If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labour for me. Yet what shall I choose? I am torn between the two, I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far. ” (Philippians 1:22-23). Pau clearly believes that being in heaven is the best of any options and has no fear of his own death.
The writer of Revelations gives us a glimpse of heaven when he writes “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. ” (Revelation 21:4). Later he writes “There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. ” Revelation 22:5
Even the words to John Newton’s hymn, Amazing Grace, show the hope and promise of heaven. “When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining like the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise, than when we’ve first begun. ”
Darrell Scott, father of Columbine shooting’s victim, Rachel Scott, when commiserated with, usually replies “I have not lost her, I know exactly where she is”. This certainty is something which we can all know in this life when we respond to God’s call to us.
Death is not the end, it can be just the beginning.
This article was submitted by Jen Carter, creator of the collection of poetry, 50 Best-Loved Poems for Funerals & Memorials , a resource for writers of funeral speeches and eulogies.
Find more information on funeral planning at the Special Moments website.