From the Word

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life.  He does not come into judgement, but has passed from death to life.”  John 5:24 

  With the coming of a pandemic comes the questions, “What if I die?” or “What if my loved ones die?” Death means change, and this side of heaven that change is lifelong.  We are Christians, thus the unchanging message is that we have the gift of eternal life in heaven through Jesus’ death and resurrection.  God has transformed death into the gate to eternal life.  Isaiah 25 promises that the coming Messiah “will swallow up death forever.”  Jesus assures us in John 11 that He is ‘the resurrection and the life.”  As we face the pandemic, or any other circumstance that reminds us of our mortality, we do so in the assurance of what Jesus has already done.  Death is defeated, and we enjoy the victory. 
  This wondrous news does not mean our death will be a wonderful process.  Often our death is the result of us being very sick.  While we have great promise about the end result, we don’t look forward to the process.  But Jesus has promised to be with us all the days, which include the days of our dying.  Whatever we endure in our dying, it will not be what He endured for us.  If the process is prolonged, we go to His Word for the assurance of grace here, and glory in heaven that awaits us. 
  For us here, the great change is the empty chair and the empty moments that would have been filled with the contribution our loved one made to our lives.  The assurance of reunion helps us, but we still miss them.  As we contemplate the contributions God made through our departed loved ones, our focus could very easily be inward; what we no longer have.  In thanks for that contribution, we have the privilege of contributing to the lives of those God has given us.  Over the last several years, I have attended the funerals of many of my mentor pastors.  The number still living is one.  But God, in His mercy, has allowed me to see the privilege I have to be that to other pastors.  That is change that rejoices in grace received, and prays that God will use us as the instruments of His grace to others.
  Death comes, but has no power over us.  In the midst of the changes that death brings to this life is the assurance of God’s unchanging grace here, and the glory of heaven He has prepared for us by Jesus’ death and resurrection.