Our neighbor has a dog. Her name is N—I will only use the initial for privacy—and she is a beautiful golden retriever. Yet she’s so old that her death is imminent. As her time rapidly draws near, I see our neighbor’s hearts sink. They are doing everything that they can do to extend N’s stay with them. N often looks dazed because of the medication. N is in pain. She seems ready to go.
Our neighbor is already grieving because she means so much to them. The lady once told me what a perfect dog N had been to them. But all the happiness that N has been bringing will soon be no more because she will leave them for good. We know nothing can stop it from happening. Death is that invincible. No matter how powerful (or wealthy) we may be, we will “go to the way of all the earth” (David to Solomon, 1 Kings 2:2 ESV). When my time comes, I will, too.
Death is the irreversible and permanent ending of the life of a person or organism. Even with all our medical and material advances, we know that death won’t be conquered. So, death is always around the corner. Our neighbor’s dog N is dying. COVID-19 has claimed almost six million lives since December 2019. Plants die. So do birds. Every living thing will face death.
I agree with Witherington III that death never reflects the character of God (Who God Is, 2020:41). Death is an aberration. That’s why it grieves us. When people led Jesus to where Lazarus was buried, Jesus wept, too (ἐδάκρυσεν, John 11:35).
While death is in the air, the Good News is that God conquered its force by raising Christ from the dead (1 Cor 15:20); death has been swallowed up in Christ’s victory (v. 24). It may continue to sting me while I live in the flesh; but it has certainly lost its grip on me (Rom 8:2). I even secretly welcome it because death now means to me that I will pass into eternity and return to my Creator and see him face to face (Eccl 12:7). This conviction then gives me enduring strength to live my life fully for the Lord because, as Paul says, my labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Cor 15:58).
Death is still powerful. I know that, when my time comes, it will end my life for sure. “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” (1 Cor 15:57)