Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
I opened in Part 1 the topic of death and said that some people ignore the inevitability of death or delay it. That could be called the ‘bridge attitude’: they view death as a bridge it’s got to be crossed some time down the road but won’t worry too much about it—worry about it when it comes.
But what should our attitude as Christians be toward death? Are we to embrace death? Look forward to our death? Are we to be morbid in our outlook and lifestyles, only wearing black and constantly inserting the topic in our conversations with others? The answer is obvious. As believers in Jesus Christ, we are about life, not death. Jesus has told us in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full.”
Henry Van Dyke Jr said, “Some people are so afraid to die that they never begin to live.” Facing the inevitable is something we all must do. By facing death properly, we can face life and invest our lives for Jesus Christ.
A five-year-old girl, returning home from the funeral of her grandmother, rode in a car with her other grandmother.
- “Where did Grandma go?” she asked.
- “We believe she went to be with God,” the other grandmother replied.
- “How old was she?”
- “She was 80-years-old.”
- “How old are you?”
- “I am 83.”
- The little girl thought a bit, and then said, “I hope God hasn’t forgotten you!”
I don’t think God has forgotten any of us when it comes to death. God knows that we all are going to die at some point, and that we are faced with this reality in some way within our minds. That’s why he sent Jesus to explain to us what eternal life is all about. His Word says “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
God set eternity in our hearts
The writer of the Time magazine back in November 1965 wrote an article called “Death As a Constant Companion”. He was correct when he observed that facing our mortality is a constant challenge for us all. How do we cope when a fatal illness strikes a member of the family? How can life go on after a husband or wife dies? How do we prepare for the end of life’s journey? Hebrews 9:27 says, “Everyone must die once and after that be judged by God.”
Now, we’d like to change a word or two of that verse. We’d like it to say, Nearly everyone must die or Everyone but me must die or Everyone who forgets to eat right and exercise and take his vitamins must die. But this is not what God says in his book. All of us die. Ecclesiastes 7:2 puts it this way, “We all must die and everyone living should think about this.”
In his Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Denial of Death, Ernest Becker suggested that the primary concern of every living person is death, and most people deal with that concern by denying that it will ever happen to them. That reminds me of a story told of Lord Palmerston. Seriously ill, his doctor told him the severity of the situation. He huffily replied, “Die, my dear doctor? That is the last thing I shall do!”
Even in our modern, secular society, every poll that is taken on the subject indicates that a substantial majority believe in some form of life after death. Is this belief merely wishful thinking arising from some evolutionary process that has produced a growing self-consciousness and a belief in our importance as beings at the top of the evolutionary scale?
Or could it be that an eternal and loving God has given us this awareness because he longs to enjoy a relationship with us that will last forever? As the writer of Ecclesiastes put it, “He has set eternity in the human heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).