Read Philippians 1:21-22
21 For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. 22 But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. (NLT)
It may well be that death is not the greatest tragedy in life. It may well be that we have not truly lived before we die. As the saying goes, how sad it is to die at 30 and be buried at 70. To die is sorrow enough, to die without living is truly heartbreaking.
Christians ought to be sure of life beyond death. As the writer George Macdonald said, “I came from God and I am going back to God, and I won’t have any gaps of death in the middle of my life.” Death for those who have embraced the mercy of Jesus is the end of a chapter of their life story, not an ending of the story itself.
Even so, we cannot merely twiddle our thumbs and wait for heaven. We can’t write this life off as a lost cause and hope for better times in the age to come. There is life before death as well as life after death. Jesus didn’t just come to offer us heaven; he came to have us share in the first instalment of heaven here on earth.
We are to echo Paul’s dilemma. We embrace life in all its variables, its sorrows and delights. We anticipate gladly the new heavens and new earth which will have all delights and no sorrows. We long for all that heaven promises and embrace all that earth presently offers.