Facing Death Without Fear
Aristotle called death the thing to be feared most because ‘it appears to be the end of everything’. Jean-Paul Sartre said that death ‘removes all meaning from life’.
Robert Green Ingersoll, one of America’s most outspoken agnostics, unable to offer any words of hope at his brother’s funeral, said, ‘Life is a narrow vale between the cold and barren peaks of two eternities. We strive in vain to look beyond the heights.’ The last words of French humanist François Rabelais were: ‘I go to seek “a Great Perhaps”’.
In Hamlet, Shakespeare describes the afterlife as: ‘The dread of something after death, the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveller returns’. Clearly, unbelief isn’t just a miserable way to live; it’s a tragic way to die.
A comedian once quipped, ‘I intend to live forever…so far, so good’. But what if death is different from how the philosophers thought of it? Not a curse, but a passageway? Instead of a crisis to be avoided, a corner to be turned? What if the cemetery isn’t the domain of the Grim Reaper, but the dominion of the Soul-Keeper who’ll someday soon announce, ‘O dwellers in the dust, awake and sing for joy’?
Paul writes: ‘If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead’ (1 Corinthians 15:19-21 NKJV).
Death isn’t the ‘great perhaps’. No, your last day on earth will herald the best of all your days!
‘O dwellers in the dust, awake and sing for joy!’ Isaiah 26:19 RSV