Whistling past the graveyard

"Whistling past the graveyard" Continued...

Issue: "Summer Books 2002," July 7, 2002

Christians can strive for, in short, not the loss of self that is essential to Buddhist and Hindu development, nor the dull place of harps and clouds that still tends to be the conventional depiction of heaven. Christians can expect neither the library-like heaven depicted in Judaism nor the lascivious one offered by Islam. Instead, the Christian hope is for a new Eden, with new adventures and productive activities, not frustrating ones doomed to failure. Christians can expect joy everlasting, for the curse of death and all the small daily deaths suffered because of sin will be gone.

Conclusion: Faith in God's sovereignty

If life is purposeless, death is meaningless. Dying well generally comes down to an issue of faith that God means well and not ill for us. In this life we learn about God's grace through sometimes hard experience. Biblical preparation for dying does not mean sitting around trading macabre thoughts, swooning in coffins, or taking courses in thanatology. It does mean learning over the years to accept that God is the Creator and we are His creatures, even unto the sadness of death.

If life is absurd, death is meaningless. Michigan pastor Robert Zagore noted in 1997 that "A deathbed is a hard place to teach the faith. It is much better learned day by day, week by week." But someone who is faithful knows that God will be faithful through death and beyond. He wrote of an elderly, long-time member of his church: "When I last saw her, she was in the hospital bed she would not leave alive. The last words I spoke to her were 3,400 years older than she.... 'The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up His countenance on you and give you peace.' She knew He would. The last word I heard her say, I overheard her say to God: 'Amen.'"

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.


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