Thousands of people die every day. Among them are people we know and people we love. How do we deal with their deaths? We will join them one day. How do we deal with the thought of our own deaths? We don't like to think about dying, much less talk about it, because we are so afraid of it. However, there is no reason to be fearful because death is not the end of things; for the believing Christian, it is the beginning of new things.
Lazarus was a friend of Jesus. When he died, his sisters Mary and Martha were understandably overwhelmed with sorrow. Jesus said to them, "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die" (John 11:25-26). And then he asked them: "Do you believe this?"
Do we believe this? We should have no cause for fear if we do because those who believe in Christ have eternal life. We don't really *die*. Death is merely the ticket that takes us back home because "our citizenship," as Paul says, "is in heaven. And we eagerly await the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body" (Philippians 3:20-21). We are foreigners on Planet Earth (see 1 Peter 1:18).
We can compare our time on the planet with visiting a foreign country on an assignment. We might enjoy the visit, especially if it is a beautiful place like the Caribbean. We might also enjoy the assignment if we realize our job is more than just earning enough money to pay the bills (please watch my video series Identity!). But when our assignment is over, we return home! Death takes us home! If we can understand this, we might find ourselves happy for somebody when they die, and death won't be something we dread but actually welcome.
Paul understood this so well, which is why he found himself conflicted between his desire to live and his desire to die. "I am torn between the two," he said. "I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body" (Philippians 1:23). I echo his sentiments because I have longed to go home ever since I came to a knowledge of Christ. Obviously, God has other ideas; I figure he wants me to write more reflections! :)
Of course, those left behind will grieve, and there will undoubtedly be much sorrow. As a wise man said, tears are the price we pay for love. But in the new heaven and earth that comes after everything is over, God promises to "wipe away every tear from our eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away" (see Revelation 21:1,4). Yet another reason not to fear death but look upon it as a portal to a new adventure.
Do you believe this?