Death is one of those topics that no one likes to talk about. It’s a difficult time in the life of someone that we care about and we don’t know what to say or do.
Death can teach us about life, love and our future.
It is something we need to talk about. It is something we think about. The reality is this: this will affect every one of our lives if it hasn’t already in some way, shape or form. Pretty much everyone is affected by this either directly in their own family – grandparents, parents, brother or sister – or indirectly with their friends and others.
I know that it’s weird to talk about but I’m not all that uncomfortable with it. My dad, grandparents and many family and friends have passed away. I have officiated many funerals in my life. I like the quote that Woody Allen said, “I’m not afraid to die. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” That’s kind of how I feel. I’m not afraid to die. I just don’t want to be around to see my kids and what they’re going to have to go through.
Here in America, it’s all about life. We have a passion to embrace living and we have a fear of dying.
Many aren’t very good at dealing with death. Many people have asked me, “What do you say to make people stop crying?” Really, I don’t say anything. I can’t make people stop crying. It’s a good question. But even if I had all the answers about life and death, there would be nothing as soothing as having that person who had died be back alive. Until we’re in the presence of God Himself, many of us here are going to be left with more questions than answers.
I really believe that there’s some things that we can learn from death.
Psalm 89:48 - Who can live and not see death, or who can escape the power of the grave?
Death effects 100% of the population. Everyone is going to die. I heard a story about a preacher who was trying to tell people about the difference between heaven and hell and he said, “How many of you want to go to heaven? Raise your hand.” All of the people raised their hand except a little boy in the front row. He wasn’t raising his hand. The preacher thought that’s kind of weird. He asked again. Still everybody raised their hand except the little boy. This confused the preacher. So the preacher stops his message and says to the little boy, “You don’t want to go to heaven when you die?” The kid goes, “Oh! When I die! I thought you were trying to get a bunch of people to go right now!” We love living and we fear dying. But the truth is no one can escape the power of the grave.
Psalm 82:7 - But you will die like mere mortals; you will fall like every other ruler.”
That means even the princes, even the heroes of this world are going to die. Name the most famous person you can think of, they’re going to die. Some of them will live to be old. Some of them will have their life cut short. Just some global names… One of my heroes Mother Teresa who served the poor in the streets of Calcutta. As a nun, she won the Nobel Peace Prize. She was a world famous person. She died at an old age. Another global name – Princess Diana, Everybody around the world knew her. What happened? Her life was cut short. Both in the eyes of the world were held up very high. Both died. One old, one young.
The Bible teaches us that if we want to be wise then we need to understand death. If we want to be a fool and pretend it doesn’t exist. Then, just go looking for the next party.
Ecclesiastes 7:4 - The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.
Let’s take a look at some things we might be able to do as we think about death and what it can teach us about love, life and the future.
1. RECOGNIZE THE UNCERTAINTY OF LIFE
None of us are guaranteed tomorrow. I know that it is a weird thought but nobody is guaranteed that they will be alive tomorrow? I’ve been a pastor for over twenty years. People who were there on Sunday and then I get the call and they have passed away. We don’t think about that at times but life is uncertain. We’re not guaranteed tomorrow.
James 4:14 - Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
It’s not just out there on the Internet where we hear about people dying. It’s in our neighborhoods. It’s in our schools. It’s on our block. For some it’s in our home. Life is uncertain. When we think about death we see that every day is a gift of life.
We need to live life to it’s fullest and to think differently about how we live our lives, because death is right around the corner. To say we are going to treat today as if it’s our last. We are going to be thankful and we are going to develop an attitude of a celebrator.
A celebrator is someone who has a thankful attitude. And because of that thankful attitude they are fun. They see life as a gift. They’re thankful for another day to be alive. They’re thankful for their friends and their family and their freedom that they can come to church and laugh and worship and sing and be around other people and learn. I’ve been to many, many funerals and people say this a lot – If only I had known. They live with deep regret. If only I had known he was going to die I would have said this. I would have done this. If only I had known she was going to die I would have been a better friend, I would have said this. I would have done that. This is a quote by author, Walter Wangren who says “There is no party that death doesn’t crash. There is no time when she does not shadow and the only way we cover her presence is by dancing a blind denial. She is here. Wherever there is life, death walks the boundaries.” Take note. Life is uncertain.
Psalm 39:5 - You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure.
This scripture motivates us to enjoy time with our families. Don’t go to bed angry at each other. Reconcile with our friends and the people that we are around. Life is too short not to live life to its fullest.
Psalm 146:2 - I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
2. DON’T RUN FROM DEATH
Death is weird.
It’s strange. It’s difficult for everybody.
It doesn’t make us comfortable. We’ve all been to enough funerals to realize that some people after the funeral will spend more time talking about how good the cheese dip was at the party after the funeral rather than talking about their feelings or their thoughts or what they felt about the person or what was said or what they experienced. Don’t run from death. Our friends after experiencing a death will need to be around us. They need to talk to us, they need our support.
I know that our first reaction is to run. We want to say, “They don’t need to be bothered now. Don’t worry about them. I’m just going to give them some time to be by themselves.” They’re going to have plenty of time to be by themselves. They need to be around you. They need to share stories about the friend and the family member that they lost. They need to process their pain. They need a shoulder to cry on. We don’t have to worry about what we have to say. They don’t want our little mini lectures on theology. They don’t need diverse opinions about life and death. They need silence. They need tears. They need love. They need our presence.
Here’s what to do when we don’t know what to do. Be there. Just be there. Those of us who have been around death before and have grieved the death of a loved one, we are even much more important to be there because we know how to comfort. we know what we needed.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 - 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
Isaiah 41:10 - So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Don’t run from it. Face it. It is inevitable. Embrace it. Help other people through it. Allow God to do something big in our life.
3. CONSIDER HOW ETERNITY GIVES US HOPE FOR TODAY.
The Bible speaks with such confidence that there is a life beyond death. The truth is eternal life takes the sting out of death.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18 - 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
John 3:16 - “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
John 11:25 - Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.
Take a look at these three words: Forever…Eternal…Life…
If we have a relationship with God we will have forever eternal life. If we embrace God’s plan for all of humanity – God created us, He wants a relationship with us, so that when we die we’re going to be with Him for eternity.
Forever eternal life. When we have a relationship here’s what He does, He forgives us of our past, everything we’ve ever done. He gives us a plan for living today. He gives us hope for a future. That’s how eternity can give us hope for today. What does the future look like? I don’t know. What does heaven look like? I do know what the Bible says. There’s going to be no pain. There’s going to be no tears. Heaven is relief from our earthly pain. Heaven is the real home. We’re just visitors here. Heaven is the permanent address. We will be in the presence of God.
God has reserved that place in eternity for His children. Everybody is a creation of God but only those who say yes to Him and develop a relationship to Him, the Bible teaches are children of God.
4. PREPARE YOURSELF FOR ETERNITY
Let’s take care of our eternal destiny. Let’s open up our life and say, “God, You come be the Lord of my life. I can’t be the Lord of my life anymore. I’ve tried to live my life and it doesn’t work. I need Your help.” Let’s take that gift in.
If we would like a life insurance policy that has “Eternity” stamped on it and that’s signed by God, it’s really quite simple. we just ask Him to come into our life. We invite Him in to be the Lord and Savior of our life. He promises forgiveness for our past, a plan for today, and hope for the future. It’s a gift. It’s a gift we can’t earn. It’s a gift we don’t deserve. It’s a gift that will never go out of style. It’s a gift that doesn’t need batteries. It’s a gift that won’t shrink. It’s a gift that doesn’t get rusty. It’s a free gift.
If you have never received that free gift you can do so very simply with a prayer. Just ask Him. If you’re a Christian, then today is just a conformation of the good news. If you’re a Christian death does not have a sting. The Bible actually says, “O death where is thy sting?” It doesn’t have a sting for a Christian. If you’re a Christian, today is a good day. Good news. Celebrate. Eternal life forever.
I know that this is a lot to think about. Thanks for reading.
Let me leave you with this…
John 14:1-3 - “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
Resource: D. Fields