Hope in the Expectation of Death & its Forms
Life has a rhythm. Highs and lows. Successes and failures. Laughter and tears. Life and death. It’s a rhythm beyond our control that we learn to live in, but often times we struggle with its painful realities. Life can seem generous or cruel, and the latter causes us to pause to contemplate brokenness and death. We reflect on the fragility of life and its sufferings, and we struggle to make sense of it all.
These moments of life can produce either hope or hopelessness. The cruel nature of life in a fallen world is inescapable, but not unexplainable. The scientist or skeptic understands life’s brokenness through the lens of survival of the fittest. The believer understands life’s cruelty as a result of sin. The reason for difficulties we face in life can be traced to sin entering the world, but all that creates is an expectation for pain, not a path through it. And so, there can be a tendency to get stuck in the explanation of pain and suffering, and to settle for the expectation of its cruel arrival. This leaves you in a state of confusion and hopelessness.
Yet, that doesn’t have to be the case.
1 Corinthians 15 says, “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory, O death, where is your sting?”
What does it mean that death is swallowed up in victory and its sting is lost? Death, in all its forms, hurts, whether it be physical death of a loved one, death of a relationship, death of expectations. Death stings. Death is cruel and results in mourning and pain. However, the true sting of death, the eternal consequences of sin and its power, has been removed for those of faith. Why did Jesus go to the cross? To remove not the reality of sin, but the sting of it. Our lives here on this earth will inevitably be touched by the effects of sin. However, the sting of death, its permanence and eternal consequences, have been removed for those in Christ.
We have victory over death, because Jesus Christ was victorious over the grave. Hardships in life are expected and can be explained, but in Christ they can also be endured. Death’s sting has been removed. If you pause in the brokenness and pain and turn your eyes to the one who has swallowed up death itself, you will find something unexpected — hope.