June 10 I Wednesday
2 Chronicles 34-36
“...Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
—1 Corinthians 15:54-55
Regardless of religious beliefs, many people have a fear of dying. Hebrews 2:14-15 talks about those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death, but are now freed from death by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus not only conquered sin and Satan, but He conquered death and in Him we have a life that is everlasting.
Paul was caught up in a dilemma when he wrote, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labour for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body” (Philippians 1:21-24). Paul’s preference is to die so that he will be with Jesus, but he lived his life on earth with eternity in mind and with Jesus Christ as his strength. This is the best of both worlds we can have on earth —“to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Shakespeare writes in his play Hamlet, “To be or not to be,” or in other words, to live or not to live. The main character, Hamlet, contemplates, “That is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them.” These are words of a man who wants to die; life is difficult for him so he considers ending it. Then Hamlet faces the alternative and says, “To die, to sleep; To sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there’s the rub: for in that sleep of death what dreams may come, when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause—there’s the respect that makes calamity of so long life.”
Life is hard for Hamlet because he sees himself subject to all the sufferings and calamities of life, but death holds no greater prospect—it may even be worse. In contrast, Paul mocks death. “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” Jesus Christ has swallowed up death, and death for every Christian is a transition to a world so unspeakably beautiful, we cannot define it. Death is not to be feared, but embraced and anticipated, as Paul says, “to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8, NKJV).
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for the incredible promise of an everlasting life with You. You have taken the sting out of death and I am not afraid. Thank You, Jesus.