‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God (2 Corinthians 1:3, 4).’
Death is a subject many avoid. They don’t want to talk about it. Why? Because it’s something they would rather avoid on account of having to face the truth (Hebrews 9:27), and yet they know it is inevitable. They will die. All living things eventually die. The sap that keeps them alive no longer runs. The life-force ceases.
There may be people reading this who are having to come to terms with death; for a relative or a friend has recently died. The whole person goes into a state of mourning. A relationship has been broken. You can no longer hold a hand, speak words of love, or give comfort and hope with a hug. You may think of times when you said something you regretted, but never put right. You didn’t say sorry and make up. Now it is too late. The chance has gone. You are alive, but your companion is dead, and you have to come to terms with your conscience.
If you are on the front line where the boundaries between life and death are very thin, you may prepare yourself for an unwanted outcome. You may ask yourself, “Will I come out of this alive?” Perhaps you are on a trolly going into an operating theatre, or you may be in a hospice gasping for breath? As you helplessly lie there, memories of loved ones flash through your mind. You ask the question, “Will I ever see them again?”
You may be a soldier or sailor, who in battle has previously had to come to terms with the sight of a comrade killed in action. The memory haunts you, but once again, as you engage in combat on the front line, you expect the inevitable, and you brace yourself for the worst. Sure enough, there’s an ear-shattering explosion, and a blast of hot air envelops you. As the smoke drifts away, right before you there’s a motionless, charred body. It has no pulse, no heartbeat and no life. His spirit has left him. The man is dead.
Death can come about in many ways, and it may be unexpected. It can take you unawares. One moment you are alive, and the next your are dead!
For those left behind, the shock of their loss is almost too much to bear. They grieve and ask why? They may even be angry and cry out to a god they don’t really believe in. For them there is no comfort. Their friends may cuddle and hold them, and say lovely words, but they find no solace; nor do they experience long-lasting comfort. They grieve their loss, and never forgive the god they don’t believe in. They pine and waste away.
Can the Unbeliever find any Comfort in Death?
True and lasting comfort can only come to those who ‘mourn’ for their sins (Isaiah 61:2; Matthew 5:4).’
Jesus says, “Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).’
The unbeliever has no comfort. He may try to console himself that he will know nothing in death. He may reason that he will feel nothing, see nothing and hear nothing. Passively he may accept that his body will be reduced to chemical elements, within which latent energy is stored. Perchance at some point in the future this energy may be released to play its part in a natural evolutionary process. Somehow his decayed matter will be utilised in a life cycle. In this way the life that was in him will continue. But what comfort is there in this? And is it true?
Factually, if he is **buried, his body will decay, and minute organisms will play their part in its decomposition. After they have done their work, they will die.
This morbidity gives no ‘hope’ for the unbeliever.
In his ignorance he thinks he will experience nothing after death, but if only he knew the truth (John 14:6), he would be deeply troubled. He would realise he will not ‘rest in peace’ as he had supposed. This is the way the world thinks, and they so often mark death with the *epitaph, R.I.P..
It would be remiss of me not to tell the biblical truth that there is no rest for the wicked (Isaiah 48:22; 57:20). Unless they repent of their sins and believe (Mark 1:15) in Jesus who will give them eternal life, they will suffer in hell (9:43-48). Only through faith and trust in the Saviour, Jesus, will they be given everlasting life (John 3:16).
What Comfort is there in Death for the Christian?
The believer has every comfort he could desire. He has Jesus who has risen from the dead. He can look forward to death (Philippians 1:21); for he has life in Him (John 14:6) and he will rise again, just as He rose from the dead (Mark 16:6; Romans 8:34).
‘For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will (John 5:21).’
‘But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you (Romans 8:11).’
The believer has the comfort of the hope of eternal life through faith (Ephesians 2:8) in Jesus. Believers will be raised to life in the likeness of Jesus and see Him as He is (1 John 3:2).
‘For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23),’ and, ‘So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory (1 Corinthians 15:54,55)?”
Death will be thrown into the lake of fire and will be no more (Revelation 20:14).
‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away (21:4).’
*A Christian’s Eulogy
**Burial, Cremation, or Otherwise?