Death is terrible. It is unarguably man’s worst affliction. What’s more is that when we die there are loved ones that remain and suffer.
There is nothing more grievous and painful than the death of someone we love. Sometimes this pain seems incurable among those that have no hope. This is understandable when the person with whom they invest the best of their life, time, love, memories, and hope is gone.
There is little comfort for those who feel they have lost everything and have hope in nothing.
The only way of coping with this level of life draining grief is to focus on what remains of their life. Just as those that remain invested life and love in those that have died, those that have died have invested in them. The dead are honoured when we live our lives in place of them, as they would intend it to be lived.
For many this is sufficient to live out their days in hope of honouring the memory of their lost loved ones. Yet it does nothing to cure the pains and consequences of death. For one day they too will all die. What will happen to those they leave behind?
And so, the cycle continues.
The Gospel and Death
Whereas those without hope have little comfort in the face of death, those who know and trust the gospel have every hope. So much so, that not only is death conquered by resurrection, but the sting of death is alleviated.
God teaches the original cause and source of death in the world to be sin (Rom 5:12). God in Christ came to earth and died a sinless death to pay the penalty for all our sins. He conquered the source of death and then defeated the affect of it when he resurrected from the dead.
The gospel teaches that these benefits of the cross are offered to all men freely if they trust what Christ did for them.
God has no pleasure in death. It is a self-inflicted injury upon mankind. It started when we rebelled against God. The solution is when we are reconciled to him through the sacrificial death of God’s own son. This ministry of reconciliation is given to his ambassadors to proclaim as victory over death, hell, and the grave.
Now, there is no need for anyone to die without hope.
How Saints Cope with Death
Just because our loved one is saved does not mean the suffering at their death is any less. It is still suffering, but the sting of death is replaced with the hope of eternal reunion and resurrection at the coming of the Lord.
“But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory [over death] through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1 Cor 15:57
That the dead in Christ continue to live is not something mystical or allegorical. It is a truth explained by the gospel working in those that believe. The dead if they are in Christ live forever. That they have died means they are in a different place. We know it to be a better place.
The dead in Christ leave us to gain a higher position in heavenly places. Some have called death a promotion to glory for a saved person since the soul is not lost, but rather promoted ahead of us into the glory that we are still waiting for.
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” – Phil 1:21
Those also in Christ are not ruined by this departure knowing that although it is sad they are no longer operating at our level in God’s service, they are now operating in a better place with better blessings by the promise of the gospel of Christ. All is not lost.
Everyone suffers great loss when a loved one dies. Only those who face death with the hope of the gospel can be sure that what they lost is not gone forever.
It was written, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15).
With the knowledge of the gospel we can now understand why.