Author: Jared Lyda
The past month, for whatever reason, has brought death into the forefront of my Facebook and Twitter feeds and therefore my mind. The airport bombings in Brussels were about a month ago. There was an earthquake in Ecuador that killed over 500 people. 8 people died recently in the floods in Houston, TX. Aggie Muster, a ceremony that happens every year at Texas A&M to honor the lives of fallen Aggies, was Thursday night, April 21. One of the Aggies honored this year was Major Shawn Campbell, Texas A&M BYX Alumnus 2001. A junior on the drumline of my high school alma mater died a few days ago. An Oklahoma State BYX founder was killed in a Tulsa apartment fire within the last few weeks. Merle Haggard died about two weeks ago. Prince died last Thursday. And the list goes on.
We tend to behave in one of two ways when it comes to death — obsession or denial. Neither is helpful. Death is coming for everyone. So how does the Christian think about death? Why does the Christian think about death?
Death is not something people in their twenties like to think about. No one that young thinks they’re going to die soon. Death is something that we push out of our minds. Every now and then a celebrity dies and we start to think about death only to quickly push it out of our minds again. But let’s take a moment and not run to Netflix or Xbox or social media or friends and consider death.
Why should we think about death? Benjamin Franklin wrote in a letter, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” The Bible says your life is a mist. You are here for a little time and then you vanish (James 4:14). Carrie Underwood sings about how this is our temporary home. This is just a stop on the way to where we’re going. Death is coming. It is universal. And it’s coming for everyone. No one is exempt.
Let’s not try to pretend that death isn’t sad or scary — it certainly is. It is right to be sad, it is right to mourn and to weep. But just like everything else in life the Christian has unshakable hope in life’s scariest and strangest times. For the Christian, to die is gain (Philippians 1:21). When we die we get to be in the presence of our God for eternity. My mind doesn’t really have categories to understand the idea of eternity. Don’t read that sentence quickly and move on. We get to be in the presence of our God for eternity. Our hope is in Christ and being with him forever.
“We look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
—2 Corinthians 4:18-5:1
We know how the story ends. In the end we win. We look forward to the day when He will wipe away every tear, when death will be no more, when mourning, crying, and pain cease, when the former things have passed away, and when God makes all things new (Revelation 21:4-5). The Christian understands what caused Paul to write, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55).
You’ve probably been asked, “How would you live your life today if you knew you were going to die tomorrow?” It sparks some interesting thoughts and a lot of fleeting motivation to change your behavior that typically fades within a few hours, but that’s not very helpful. And most likely you won’t die tomorrow.
I’m not interested in asking myself questions that will get me super motivated for an hour or two and then let me go back to what I was doing before. I’m interested in life-changing questions. I’m interested in life-changing sentences and paragraphs. I’m interested in thinking deeply about things that will change my perspective forever, things that will shape my worldview, and things that will alter how I live. I’m not interested in obsessing over death. But I am interested in allowing the fact that it’s coming to shape the way that I interact with those around me.
I want to remember how small I am compared to a big God.
I want to remember how fragile I am compared to a God who is our refuge and strength (Psalm 46).
I want to remember how limited my scope is compared to a God whose judgments are unsearchable and whose ways are inscrutable (Romans 11:33).
I want to remember how weak I am compared to an omnipotent God who does what he pleases (Psalm 115:3).
I want to remember how short my life and legacy is compared to a God whose name will be remembered throughout all generations (Psalm 102:12).
I want to remember these things and have them stir up worship in my soul. It is right to think on death because its reminder to us that we are small and fragile fuels our worship of a God who is eternal and all-powerful.
For now death does sting, death is sad, losing loved ones is painful. We cry. We mourn. We hurt. But we are not hopeless. We have a hope that is unfading and a joy that never ends. We serve an almighty God. Through him death is defeated.
Jared Lyda is the National Advisor for the Texas State, Kansas, Ole Miss, and Tulsa BYX chapters. He graduated from Texas A&M University in 2015 with a degree in Leadership and Development. He currently lives in Fort Worth, TX.