Death and Joy
Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text is written in Chapter 8 of the Epistle to the Romans, Verse 18, in which St. Paul writes, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Thus far our text.
Much of this world fears death as something hateful and ugly. But the child of God, who knows the example of Jesus in His death, knows that death is not to be feared, for it is the moment at which the faithful of the Lord are ushered into that glorious eternal life which He has prepared for them from the foundation of this world.
St. Paul wrote the words of this text to strengthen our faith and to give us hope. “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Paul does not deny, or ignore, or even make light of our sufferings. He knows that all these things are very real, and very troubling. But instead, he seeks to raise our eyes to see the glorious future that awaits us, a sure and certain hope that overshadows and tempers even the sufferings of this present time, no matter how lengthy or severe they may be.
In the midst of sorrow and sickness, our thoughts so often turn to what is taking place with us physically, and we fail to see that blessed future: living with our Lord Jesus Christ forever, our bodies raised in glory. And then we begin to measure our lives only by what occurs here in these short years of time, instead of measuring them by the wondrous glory of everlasting life. We do not listen enough to the words of the Lord and Giver of Life. So let us look away from the present, if only for a moment, and see the glorious future that awaits us.
Our Lord Jesus said, “In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” The gracious power of God stands over all things, and the saving work of our Lord Jesus Christ is a completed work! The glories of heaven await all believers. Our Father awaits His children. Jesus is there to share His infinite love with those He has redeemed with His own life and blood. We can look forward to death with joy.
There is a world beyond this time of change and decay! St. John has told us in the Book of Revelation, that in this world to come, “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” It is a wonderful future that awaits us because, by faith in Jesus Christ, we will forever be called “sons of God.” And in the words that come just before our text, Paul said that if we are children of God, then we are heirs, “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” By the blood of the everlasting covenant, the blood of our dear Savior, we are heirs of the glories of heaven.
Within these words of encouragement, there is also an admonition addressed to us. Though much sorrow and distress may arise to change our lives and disturb our happiness, yet we must keep our eyes and thoughts on that world to come. “Think on these things,” Paul said on another occasion. Fill up your hearts and minds with the promise of God: the promise of rest, the promise of perfect freedom from all the ills and troubles of this life. Immerse yourself in the Word of God, especially during these days of sorrow and distress, and you will know the comfort the Spirit brings.
We all make our way in this world along a narrow and sometimes fear-filled path, often accompanied with suffering. That was a path Marvin knew well, both in caring for his beloved wife and in his own more recent ailments. But we need not fear, even as Marvin was not afraid. The Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, has gone the way of suffering and death before us, and He has made that way holy.
When death comes, He shows that way to us and comforts us with His Word. What seems dark and fearsome becomes light and joy. Lift up your eyes; see the redemption of the Lord drawing near. Walk with Christ now, so that you may walk with Him through the valley of the shadow of death and into that eternity He has prepared for you and for all who have gone before. Think on heavenly things, and then, like Marvin, you can look forward to death with joy. In the name of the Father and of the Son (†) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.