As the old saying goes, “The young may die; the old must die.” Upon honest and serious reflection we are forced by facts to agree. A quick glance at the daily obituary column, a short stroll through a cemetery, or a casual look through an old family photo album will remind us all too graphically of death’s cold stark reality. “It is appointed for men to die.” (Hebrews 9:27.)
For most of this world’s travelers death provides no hope. Solomon chillingly reports, “And so I saw the wicked buried.” (Ecclesiastes 8:10.) Because “the whole world lies in wickedness” (1 John 5:19), the world without Christ sees in death only despair. Robert Ingersol, a self-confessed agnostic, stood over the grave of his dear brother and sadly remarked, “Life is a narrow vale between the cold and barren peaks of two eternities. We strive in vain to look beyond the heights. We cry aloud, and the only answer is the echo of our own wailing cry. From the voiceless lips of the unreplying dead there comes no sound.”
But death need not be hopeless. For God’s children, death can be, and can be seen as, a blessing. In the words of Charles Colton, death is “the liberator of him whom freedom cannot release, the physician of him whom medicine cannot cure.” Scripture promises, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, they that may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.” (Revelation 14:13.) And again, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. (Psalms 116:15.)
The fact of death is beyond our control. We cannot will death away. But whether or not we die “in the Lord,” as “His saints,” has been left up to us.