And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them.” (Revelation 14:13 ESV).
Oh, the joy of having the gift of family and friends in the household of faith. Oh, how happy it is when we come together and fellowship with one another when we cry together, laugh together and share in the joy of the Lord. Oh, how fortunate it is when fellow believers in Christ hold you accountable and desire for your wellbeing. Oh, how sweet the memories we create with one another and cherish them day by day. Then…then death strikes. It pleases the Lord to take one of us. Oh, how painful and sorrowful it is for us who remain behind. We feel torn from the inside. The pain of losing one of us, a father, a mother, a son, a daughter, a brother, a sister, or a friend is so overwhelming. We mourn, we ache and there is no amount of comfort that can satisfy our pain and grief other than the comfort of God’s promises in His word.
Death for sure is an enemy and it is inevitable. It does not favor any one or announce its arrival. It is an unwanted guest in every home and it leaves a trail of sorrow behind in every visit it makes. Everyone has experienced the cruel hand of death in one way or another, I recently had a share of it when I lost three of my friends.
You see, we often find ourselves questioning the loss of a beloved, at times we get angry and wallow in despair. We ask why they had to die, we become so hopeless and wonder how we’ll move past the death of our loved ones. The memories we shared with them become a constant linger in our minds and we can’t help but cry out all the more.
“But we do not want you to be uninformed my brothers about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep. For this, we declare to you by a word from the Lord that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord, himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 ESV)
How comforting the scriptures are. Yes, we mourn, yes, we weep, and yes, we ache but not as those who have no hope. We rejoice in the knowledge that our beloved has died having known Christ and trusted in His work on the cross. We rejoice in the hope that they are asleep and will rise again upon Christ’s coming and we shall see them again. The word truly does assure us that we shall see them again. So then, may we hold fast to this assurance, to the promise we have been given by our Lord. That indeed death will not have the final say in our lives. And in all these may we too be reminded that even death works together for our good, for the good of those who love Him, for the good of those who are called according to His purpose.
“Father, I desire that they also whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:24 ESV)
As Christians, we are exiles and sojourners in this world. Pilgrims on a journey. In the High Priestly prayer, Christ himself desired to be united with us in his glory and we too long for the day our vile bodies shall be destroyed and glorified with him. Christ’s prayer is answered when a fellow saint goes to be with the Lord. Where there’s no more pain, no more suffering, a place we all long to be, a place where sin has not stained. Those who die, die in a natural and perishable body but will be raised in a spiritual and imperishable body. And even more, we can rest in the comfort that the sting and victory of death have been conquered by Christ on the cross.
What then for us who remain behind? If anything, the sight of death should remind us of the fleetingness of life. For what is the life of man if not a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Our flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers and the flower falls. Such is the life of man according to scripture.
Shall we then continue to live in sin? Shall we live as though this world is our home? Shall we continue to pleasure ourselves in the things of this world and pursue joy and satisfaction from them? Shall we continue to live as those who are ignorant of the truth? Are we ready to meet the Lord if we are called upon today? What kind of deeds will follow us?
“Never fear dying beloved. Dying is the least matter that a Christian has to be anxious about. Fear living, that is a hard battle to fight, a stern discipline to endure, a rough voyage to undergo.” – Charles Spurgeon
Living is indeed a battle. A battle against our sinful desires. A battle against our sinful flesh. Psalms 51:5 “Behold I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Paul himself in Romans 7 confessed to struggling to do that which was right and often found himself doing that which was wrong. So yes, blessed indeed are they who die in the Lord, who have rested from their labors. But let us not despair in all these for we have a High Priest who is able to sympathize with our weakness, who has been tempted in every way like we are yet was without any sin. He will surely hold us fast to the very end. Therefore, may we entrust our lives to him and have our hearts secured in Christ. For to live is Christ and to die is gain. He who formed us in the womb will surely guide us to the tomb.
No man knows the day or hour they shall be called out of this world. So live each day as though it was your last. Live to glorify God and honor Him in all your ways. Seek him in truth while he may yet be found. For whatever comes and come it will, may your life be found secured in Christ and your heavenly destination without any doubt.
We all have friends and family members who are ignorant of the truth. And brethren, the pain of losing one of your own who does not know Christ is even more agonizing especially when you had a chance to evangelize to them but did not do so. There is no promise that we shall see them again. There is no hope we can long for, no anticipation in our hearts of seeing them again. In fact, what awaits them as recorded in Revelation 14 is God’s wrath. They will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. The smoke of their torment will go up forever and ever, and they will have no rest, day or night. Such is what awaits them. It is dreadful and it’s neither a place we would want to be nor a place you would wish for anyone to go to. Then let us labor brethren. Let us labor for the Gospel and make the truth known to those around us. May we not be ashamed of it. And to those who ignore these truths, how I pray that you will no longer harden your hearts. May you run to the cross for that is where salvation is found, in Christ. I pray that you will behold these truths and hold fast to Christ until the very end.
Will we give an account of our lives? Yes, we will. So let us examine ourselves then to see whether we are truly in the faith. Let us live and serve God with all our being, with all that is within us. May we hold fast to the inheritance promised. An inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for us. May our hope be built in nothing else but Jesus’ blood and righteousness. And to our fellow saints who have gone ahead of us, who have crossed the threshold of life to eternity, precious are they in the sight of the Lord. “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” (Psalms 116:15 ESV). Until we meet again in the beautiful shore!
Much Grace and Peace to you all!
By Bethly Chemutai
Bethly Chemutai is a student at Kabarak University pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science.