The idea that life on earth is so infinitely precious that the death which robs us of it must be the ultimate tragedy is precisely the idolatry that [God is often trying] to combat.
In light of the fact that we must all die, the exact timing, surely, is of relatively little consequence.
Death used to be an executioner, but the gospel has made him just a gardner.
Afraid? Of what? To feel the spirit’s glad release? To pass from pain to perfect peace. The strife and strain of life to cease? Afraid – of that (E.H. Hamilton)?
The Apostle [Paul] is asking in Philippians 1 which is most worthwhile for him, to live or to die. Often has that question presented itself to us, and perhaps we like the Apostle, have answered that “we are in a strait.” But I fear we may have used the words in a sense far different from Paul’s. When we have wished for death, we meant to say, “I know not which alternative I ought most to dread, the afflictions of life, from which death would release me, or the terrors of death, from which life protects me.” In other words, life and death look to us like two evils of which we know not which is the less. As for the Apostle, they look to him like two immense blessings of which he knows not which is the better (Adolphe Monod).
The fear of death is ingrafted in the common nature of all men, but faith works it out of Christians.
The day may come when after a long fight with disease, we shall feel that medicine can do no more, and that nothing remains but to die. Friends will be standing by, unable to help us. Hearing, eyesight, even the power of praying, will be fast failing us. The world and its shadows will be melting beneath our feet. Eternity, with its realities, will be looming large before our minds. What shall support us in that trying hour? What shall enable us to feel, “I fear no evil”? (Psalm 23:4). Nothing, nothing can do it but close communion with Christ. Christ dwelling in our hearts by faith. Christ putting His right arm under our heads. Christ felt to be sitting by our side. Christ can alone give us the complete victory in the last struggle.
What is the worst the opposition can do? Kill you – though doubtless that will occur, at least for now, in this country. But even if that were case, the Scripture strips away that excuse citing that death for the Christian is the greatest event possible because only death has the ability to break the seal and usher you into inexpressible glory. Could the problem be that we simply have a too great a fascination with the things going on here and not enough desire to spend eternity with Christ? If we really “prefer” to be “home with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8), intimate, personal, visible communion with Christ that far exceeds our communion with Christ here (Heb. 11:10, 13), then we must be “absent from the body” (2 Cor. 5:8). In other words, we must die. Therefore death from that perspective doesn’t sound so bad. Only death can release me from “absent from the Lord” to be “home with the Lord.” So the worst the enemy can do is send me to paradise!
Never fear dying, beloved. Dying is the last, but the least matter that a Christian has to be anxious about. Fear living – that is a hard battle to fight, a stern discipline to endure, a rough voyage to undergo.