Today I am participating in the funeral of a dear Christian lady. She was one of the first people to greet us when we first visited the Church in Parrish. Every time I am a part of a funeral or even simply attend a funeral I have mixed emotions.
As mortal beings, we do not think of death as a “blessed” event. On the contrary, we tend think of death as sad; as a breaking of relationships (family and friends); as a destroyer of hopes and dreams; as cold and without cheer. Most of us do not whistle happy tunes at funerals.
Is that how God view death? God seems to used death a punishment in Gen 3:3, yet near the end of Scripture we learn that death is also a blessing (cf. Rev 14:13).
Death is a blessing for those who endure. The Holy Spirit says calls those who die in the Lord “Blessed?” “Blessed” means to be happy or to receive of honor. How is death a blessing?
Because the deeds of the faithful follow them in death, the faithful in the Lord receive a blessing in death. Whereas our possessions cannot follow us; what we did with life (blessings) can and will (cf. Act 9:36-39). Survivors and friends will remember our care for our family. Those benefitted will recall our compassion for less fortunate. Christians and God will know of our concern for God’s Kingdom and our efforts to rescue the lost
Because our physical life ends our labors here on earth cease that is a blessing for the future, for the eternity that follows death. We will not be idle, we will be in service to and praising God, but we will rest from our earthly efforts (cf. Heb 4:9-10). We will rest from fighting temptations and sin (cf. Eph 6:11-12). We will rest from pain and sorrow (cf. 1Co 15:35-53).
James Edmeston (1791-1867) wrote the following poem that succinctly and skillfully explores: Life in Comparison with Eternity
The world is but our nursery
And heaven our manhood stage;
This life is but our infancy,
Eternity is our age;
And all earth’s little griefs and joys,
Like transient pains and idle toys
Which childhood thoughts engage.
A spark of an immortal fire,
The spirit glimmers here;
But in full splendor will aspire
In heaven’s congenial sphere;
For passion, sin, and error free,
Strong in its immortality,
Unshackled free and clear.
How do you view your imminent death?