It was a Wednesday morning. I packed up the kids and headed to my mom’s house to pick up my niece, a sweet young girl in that preteen stage. She and I were going to spend the entire day together. When I arrived, I asked what she wanted to do. “Go to Applebee’s,” she said. I hadn’t been to Applebee’s in ages.
At the restaurant I asked how she was. She said she was great but was tired of one thing. “I’m just tired of people telling me it’s going to be okay. I just want to know what’s going to happen next.”
The day before her mother, my sister, died from what we believe was congestive heart failure. She was 40. Her death was a shock. At 7:30 p.m., we got a call she wasn’t feeling well. By 12:30 a.m., she was gone.
My sweet niece is right. To say it’s going to be okay isn’t all that helpful. I know the mourning will be less heavy one day. I know everyone will soon be busy with life’s mundane activities. I also know one day everything will seem “okay.”
But death is not “okay.” Death is never “okay.”
Death is not “okay” because it’s the result of life in a fallen world. Death is not the way it was meant to be.
In the beginning God made the world, and he made it good (Gen. 1:31). God’s work is perfect, and he is without iniquity (Deut. 32:4).
So why is death not okay? It’s not okay because even though God made everything good, the Fall rendered the perfect accursed. Our first parents rebelled and God justly judged; one sin brought condemnation for all (Gen. 3:14–19; Rom. 5:16).
Death is the result of a broken world. We experience starvation, sickness, aging, and death, but none of these things existed in the beginning.
In infinite wisdom and grace, God provided a way to conquer death through the work of his Son. Jesus died and rose again in victory. The free gift of salvation, through faith in Christ, brings justification (Rom. 5:16). And this free gift is available to anyone who places their faith in the finished work of the cross.
God not only grounds our hope in Christ’s death, but also in his return. On that day, death will be swallowed up for good (1 Cor. 15:55). If the Lord intended for death to be okay, then there’d be no need for him to end death. But he will. He promises to create a new heaven and new earth where there’ll no longer be an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who doesn’t fill out his days (Isa. 65:17–25). As the apostle Paul declares, “The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Cor. 15:26).
When I stare death in the face, as I did earlier this year, I can have hope and faith—not because everything will return to “life as normal,” but because there is coming a day when I’ll never have to face death again. Right now we wait, but one day it will be defeated. It will be defeated for me. It will be defeated for you.
When the “perishable puts on the imperishable,” and the “mortal puts on immortality,” then the words of 1 Corinthians 15:54–57 will finally come true:
Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.