Today’s verses are ones often read at funerals and memorial services to remind those left behind that for believers in Christ, death does not have the last word.
What a comfort!
But it’s also a reminder that the world as it is right now, is NOT the world God intended. He made everything perfect and perfectly alive.
Sin brought death.
Death brought heartache.
And for those of us who have too soon been separated from the child of our heart, we know how very much a heart can ache.
I absolutely rest on God’s promise that there will be a Day when everything is redeemed and restored. Christ’s resurrection is proof that His sacrifice is sufficient.
But even Jesus does not yet (in time) possess the full reward for that sacrifice.
So it’s no wonder we often struggle walking in the here and now while waiting patiently for the perfect hereafter.
We are not the first to wonder just how long we might have to wait! Paul was writing to comfort the church at Corinth. He reminded them of truth. He encouraged them to take hold of it and hide it in their hearts as ammunition against the lies of the enemy of our souls.
Stay close because I am going to tell you a mystery—something you may have trouble understanding: we will not all fall asleep in death, but we will all be transformed. 52 It will all happen so fast, in a blink, a mere flutter of the eye. The last trumpet will call, and the dead will be raised from their graves with a body that does not, cannot decay. All of us will be changed! 53 We’ll step out of our mortal clothes and slide into immortal bodies, replacing everything that is subject to death with eternal life. 54 And, when we are all redressed with bodies that do not, cannot decay, when we put immortality over our mortal frames, then it will be as Scripture says:
Life everlasting has victoriously swallowed death.[a]
55 Hey, Death! What happened to your big win?
Hey, Death! What happened to your sting?[b
56 Sin came into this world, and death’s sting followed. Then sin took aim at the law and gained power over those who follow the law. 57 Thank God, then, for our Lord Jesus, the Anointed, the Liberating King, who brought us victory over the grave. I Corinthians 15: 51-59 VOICE
Look at that first verse, “I’m going to tell you a mystery…”
Paul reminds the Corinthians (and us!) that what he’s about to say doesn’t necessarily “make sense” in the way a math equation does. In order to lean into the truth to follow, I have to become comfortable with the space between what I can see, taste, touch and feel and what may very well be true but not accessible by my limited physical senses.
That can be hard and uncomfortable.
So often I want tangible proof.
But that’s not how God works.
He asks me to step out in faith and trust His heart even when I can’t trace His hand.
The good news is that the world is not being tossed about in a battle between equals.
There’s no doubt that the final victory belongs to Jesus, the Author and Perfector of my faith.
So how can I arm my spirit against the wiles of the evil one? By studying the Word, hiding it in my heart and choosing-as an act of willful obedience-to believe.
Questions to ponder:
- Do you believe that Death is defeated? Why or why not?
- Obviously people still experience physical death. How does that fact impact your understanding of how God works in the world today?
- What about the mystery Paul reveals is hardest for you to accept or understand?
- How does the promise that these bodies we inhabit aren’t the last word encourage your heart?
- What does it look like to live confidently in the hope of redemption, restoration and resurrection?
It’s not always easy to choose life, Lord
Because then we have to struggle with who we are
and why we are, and who you are,
And what to do with who we are,
and why we are, and who you are.
We have to let you make us new,
and being made anything always hurts.
Let the morning come in our hearts,
So morning can come in our lives,
And the world that needs a word of hope can hear
‘Death has lost, and life has won.’Verdell Davis, Riches Stored in Secret Places
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