Pastoral Perspectives

Life and Death

“In sickness and in health… till death do us part” is what we usually hear during weddings. Christian couples who are getting married make this vow to one another in the presence of their families and witnesses that they would be there for each other through the thick and the thin. This physical union parts the couple in death. It is not just couples who face this reality. As parents, we cannot save our children too. Even Christiano Ronaldo with all his accolades and fame came face-to-face with the death of his newborn son. As children, we also cannot save our parents.

Death is not something everyone is comfortable to talk about. Some find it scary, some dread it, and some long for it. Death levels everyone; the rich, the mighty, the poor and slaves.  It is something that everyone of us will experience and face one day. Everyone is fated to die. How then shall we live?

The English poet and Christian cleric John Donne in his poem Death Be Not Proud personifies death and paints a picture of it as being proud, vain and some have even called it mighty and dreadful. Death is often treated as important, strong and final. But the poet argues that it is nothing more than a rest or a sleep from where one wakes up. Death then, like sleep is beneficial because it refreshes the person. The one who dies is not the man but death itself because as believers, death is not the end. Death is simply rest for the body to transition into the eternal life.

This is possible only because of what Jesus Christ has done for us! 1 Corinthians 15:20 says “Christ has been raised from the dead”. Christ died and took the curse of death and crushed its power by His resurrection. Therefore, we can trust in Him both in life and in death.

The Heidelberg Cathechism of 1563 begins with this question:

Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death?

A. That I am not my own,
but belong—

body and soul,
in life and in death—

to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.

He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood,
and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.
He also watches over me in such a way
that not a hair can fall from my head
without the will of my Father in heaven;
in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.

Because I belong to him,
Christ, by his Holy Spirit,
assures me of eternal life
and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready
from now on to live for him.

Many believers over the years begin their Christian faith with this question because everyone knows death is inevitable. Knowing that we are all destined to die until Christ returns, we can find comfort in life by knowing how to face death with God’s help. Christ’s resurrection gives us hope to trust in Him because the sting of death has been removed by Christ’s victory over the grave. Christ’s resurrection can transform how we live each day.

Christ is indeed our living hope both in Life and Death and therefore we can sing ‘Hallelujah! Now and ever, we confess that Christ is our hope, in life and in death.’

Christ our Hope in Life and Death

Words and Music by Keith Getty, Matt Boswell, Jordan Kauflin, Matt Merker, Matt Papa ©2020 Getty Music Publishing (BMI)

1. What is our hope in life and death?
Christ alone, Christ alone.
What is our only confidence?
That our souls to Him belong.
Who holds our days within His hand?
What comes, apart from His command?
And what will keep us to the end?
The love of Christ, in which we stand.

O sing hallelujah!
Our hope springs eternal;
O sing hallelujah!
Now and ever we confess
Christ our hope in life and death.

2. What truth can calm the troubled soul?
God is good, God is good.
Where is His grace and goodness known?
In our great Redeemer’s blood.
Who holds our faith when fears arise?
Who stands above the stormy trial?
Who sends the waves that bring us nigh

3. Unto the shore, the rock of Christ? 
Unto the grave, what shall we sing?
“Christ, He lives; Christ, He lives!”
And what reward will heaven bring?
Everlasting life with Him.
There we will rise to meet the Lord,
Then sin and death will be destroyed,
And we will feast in endless joy,
When Christ is ours forevermore.

As human beings, whether as a couple or family, we can only be there for one another while we are alive. We cannot save one another from death nor be there in death. We are powerless in the face of death. But in Christ, we can boldly declare like Paul that to live is Christ and to die is gain. May Christ’s resurrection give us the impetus to live for Him and show others that Christ lives in us too.

Pr Loliro Sani

April 24, 2022