Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Enemy, The Victory, and The Hope

A few days ago I watched my Facebook and Twitter feeds fill up with lamentations about a character death on a popular TV show. Comments ranged from "what a bummer" to "Wow, that was depressing" and "do TV writers think they have to kill off every character?"

I thought it was ridiculous, all this sturm und drang for a character on a TV show? Seriously?

I was indignant. Where were all these people when terrorists killed - for real, not just pretend - our Ambassador to Libya (and three other Americans)? Did a fake death on a TV show really matter more to people than actual deaths with significant repercussions for our entire country?

My indignation grew. Sheila Gregoire is right, it really is a A Honey Boo Boo World.

Somehow, I just couldn't stop thinking about it. Why did it matter so much? Why do deaths of fictional characters on TV shows (or even books) have the ability to affect us this way?

My indignation slipped away as I gradually figured it out (I think): because death matters. Death is the enemy.

When we're reminded of death everything inside us cries out, "This isn't right!"

Think about these examples:
  • Fourteen week old unborn baby's heart stops beating. No doctor can explain why.
  • An infant only a few months old goes down for her morning nap. She does not wake up again.
  • A child fights a battle with leukemia and loses.
  • A young man, only 30 years old, dies of a heart attack caused by an unknown allergy to a common medicine.
  • A wife and mother of 3 young children, a woman who has surrendered to be a missionary for God on a foreign field, is killed in a car accident.
  • Men in the prime of life, husbands, fathers, & grandfathers, are struck by two different but highly aggressive forms of cancer. They are given life expectancies of weeks or months, not years. For one this turns into days instead of weeks. The other continues to struggle.
  • A 94 year old great-grandmother gets ill, seems to get better, returns home from the hospital, slips into unconsciousness and never wakes up on earth again. Among others, she leaves behind her husband, a 102 year old man who can't imagine life without her.
These are real situations, many of them occurring in just the last few weeks.

Do you see it? From the unborn to lives stretching nearly a century, it's never long enough. There is no good time to say goodbye. We are never ready. We would always ask for another day.

Death is our enemy and we mourn our losses.

And God whispers, "My child, I hate it too. This is why I sent my only beloved son."
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” (1 Corinthians 15:20-26 ESV)
Jesus lived a sinless life, He gave himself as a willing sacrifice, He suffered complete and utter torment and separation from God the Father. And when He had done that, when He was done, when He had paid it all, He declared, "It is finished."

Don't you love that line in the Getty song, The Power of the Cross, that says, "...Finished, the victory cry..."?

He didn't sigh as His life slipped away. He was not a victim. He finished what He came to do, He declared "Victory", then He gave up His spirit to the Father and what a reunion in Heaven that must have been.

And then, just to show that God had accepted his sacrifice, He rose again on the third day and was seen of many witnesses. (1 Corinthians 15)

You see, God agrees with us that death is the enemy. He agrees with us that this is not how it ought to be.

And, unlike us, He could do something about it. He promised Adam and Eve (and, incidentally, Satan) that He already had a plan to do so. (A plan that He had before the foundations of the world.)
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”
(Genesis 3:15 ESV)

Death has a sting. Death leaves a bruise. Death, even 2,000 years after Christ's sacrifice, still marks us.

But Jesus Christ crushed the power of Satan and Death to divide us from God and even from each other.
For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“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.
(1 Corinthians 15:53-57 ESV)
Believing these things does not remove the temporary pain, the bruise of death. Separation can be difficult even when we know it's only temporary.

Believing these things does remove the uncertainty, the agony. We do not grieve as those who have no hope. (1 Thessalonians 4) Although, I have to say that it makes sense to me that it doesn't say, "we don't grieve." We do grieve. We just don't grieve as those without hope.

The reminders are around us, whether in our own lives, in the lives of those we love, or even on TV: death is our enemy.

The reminders in God's Word are there too: Jesus Christ has defeated death. It may be the last enemy to be defeated, but really, it already lost. That is our great hope.


Elisabeth said...

Amazing post. I'm Almost in tears, it's so great. I just started a curriculum for Bible club that is taking us straight thru the Bible, beginning to end. But the "stories" aren't the main focus. The fact that God had a plan before the beginning is the focus. We have only done the first two lessons, but I love it and look forward to studying these lessons. And this post reminds me a lot of what we have talked about. I'm so thankful He had a plan!!!

Jodi G. said...

Thank you -- this post was a real blessing to me tonight!!

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