Please forgive my silence during the past few weeks. I was in Haiti from March 1 – 18 teaching at Institut Biblique Lumiere and conducting evangelistic meetings with Pastor Jean Admettre and the good people of Third Baptist Church in Les Cayes.
The subject of death has been on my mind recently. It’s probably due to two recent events which occurred on consecutive Sundays. On March 10th while I was in Haiti one of the young Deacons at Third Baptist Church died unexpectedly, leaving behind a wife and two young children. I had the privilege of visiting the widow in her home with Pastor Jean Admettre and attending the memorial service. The following Sunday, March 17th an elderly man in our congregation went home to be with the Lord. We had his funeral this past Friday.
For the Christian death is an interesting thought. We often turn to the Apostle Paul’s statement knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. . . we are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6 & 8). There is that aspect of looking forward with anticipation, not to the journey of death, but to the reality that death in this life ushers us into something better, something eternal. Death doesn’t simply add to life – it begins real life!
But there is another aspect of death that we often overlook. And that is that death takes something away. What death removes is our opportunity to bring praise and honor to the Lord. The Psalmist reminds us of this when he says, in death there is no remembrance of You; in the grave who will give You thanks? (Psalm 6:5). And again, the dead do not praise the Lord, nor any who go down into silence. (Psalm 115:17).
In Psalm 88 we are given an extended section that talks about what we cannot do in death.
Shall the dead arise and praise You? Shall Your lovingkindness be declared in the
grave? Or Your faithfulness in the place of destruction? Shall Your wonders be
known in the dark (place)? And Your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness? (Verses 10-12).
Death removes our ability and our opportunity to praise and thank God, to declare His goodness, to experience His faithfulness, to share His wonders and to tell people about His righteousness. It takes away the very reason that we are here. It is only in life that we can accomplish anything for God. Once we are dead we can no longer bring glory to Him with our lives.
Which leads me to two thoughts. First, we need to be busy doing what we were designed to do. Life for the Christian isn’t about us – it’s about God and what we can do for Him with our lives. And second, while death will lead us to something more glorious and better, let’s not be so anxious to go there, knowing that it is only in life that we serve.
Stay in the Word