Death is Not the Final Chapter
By Heather Lynn 6 Minute Read
Death can seem like the unknown territory of uncharted waters. What makes something unknown so scary? Dictionary.com defines the word unknown as “not known; not within the range of one's knowledge, experience, or understanding; strange; unfamiliar.” People tend to fear death because it is not something that is within their understanding or knowledge. The Bible gives us descriptions of death, heaven, and the afterlife, but since no one can come back after they die and tell us, we don’t have any experiences after death; therefore, it is something we fear. If we understand what God has to say about death and the promises of eternal life, then we will be able to focus on our faith instead of our fear and have hope that death is not the final chapter in our story.
Death evokes emotions in us because we are human. Every person reacts to the death of a loved one differently. Naomi and Job, two people in the Bible, had very opposite reactions to death. Naomi experienced the death of her husband and two sons within 10 years of each other. This left her very bitter and with the idea that God was against her (Ruth 1:21). While this is a form of grief that many choose, it is not one that brings about faith. Naomi grieved as someone who had no hope. She had the misconception that adversity equaled God’s discontentment. Job saw tragedy strike when he lost everything he had including all of his children. Yet in the midst of this trial, he counted the Lord as faithful and declared Him the author of life stating, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21b). Grief takes many forms. God created us as people to feel, so grief is a part of the healing process after we have experienced the death of a loved one. However, for the Christian, we do not grieve as those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13)! While death is a necessary part of life, there is so much more after this life on earth.
While it can be difficult, death is necessary and serves a purpose that is greater than our minds can conceive. Romans 5:12 states that sin entered the world through Adam, so death also entered the world and spread as sin spread. The necessary punishment of sin is death as part of God’s judgment (Romans 6:23), but the scripture goes on to say that the gift of God is eternal life. Death is what ushers us from this life into the eternal life planned for us. God, in His mercy, frees us from the pain and suffering of sin and welcomes us into an eternity of righteousness. God alone gives mercy and decides when it is our time to join Him in eternity.
Society has tried to strip God of His authority when it comes to death and eternity. While man’s belief in the beginning of life affects his views and value of life, man’s views of the end of life can also determine how he values life. Just as we discussed earlier in this series, belief in the theory of evolution gives no purpose in life’s beginnings; however, it also makes our ending accidental. What value does life have if everything is accidental? Another way society has tried to strip God of His authority is by the practice or belief of Euthanasia. Suffering can be painful to watch and difficult for all those walking with loved ones experiencing it. Those who hold to the belief of relieving suffering through Euthanasia believe it is an act of mercy. However, this places the authority of life and death in man’s hands which is clearly not a decision God ever wanted us to make. He alone decides our beginning and ending. We can walk through suffering with our loved ones, especially if they express a desire to leave this life, by offering assistance to relieve the suffering, encourage them of their value and worth to God, and pray endlessly for them in their relationship with Him. God promises in Isaiah 46:3-4 that He will carry us from our birth, even until the end of our days. He alone has the final authority.
Suffering is challenging but produces endurance which leads to character. Romans 5:1-5 tells us that character produces hope. So ultimately our suffering in this life as Christians brings about the hope we have because Jesus Christ took our punishment of death on His shoulders when he went to the cross. When you choose life, eternal life with God, through accepting Jesus as the propitiation for our sins, you are choosing the hope that death is not the end of the story or the final chapter in this book of life. It is only the beginning of eternity in heaven. So, therefore, we do not grieve as those who have no hope.