The Blessedness of a Christian Death
“…Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord henceforth…” (See Revelation 14:33, RSV).
There is a blessedness (happiness) in being able to face death as a Christian – a believer – someone who is confident of God’s love and grace. The Psalms, especially, are filled with the idea that there are blessings to be gained in death (see Psalms 23:4, 49:15, 116:15). The second of the seven beatitudes in Revelation speaks of the blessedness of a Christian death.
We cannot escape the reality of death. We have a saying: “Nothing in life is as certain as death and taxes.” Believe it or not, death is even more certain than taxes! “It is appointed unto man once to die…” (Hebrews 9:27). Life is compared to a vapor or mist that appears for a little while and then evaporates, or as the grass that withers. You and I are going to die. We are going to step into eternity. We are going to face our Creator.
Christians may view death in terms of rest. This is the attitude of Revelation. Death is a relief from labors, suffering, distractions, and trials. The word used in Revelation 14:13 describes a returning soldier or sailor who is now able to pursue those things that mean the most to him or her. The “rest” of death is not eternal laziness, but eternal strength and energy. The Christian anticipates death in the light of future rewards. Shakespeare said, “The evil that men do lives after them. The good is often interred with their bones.” Not so for the Christian! God promises that good works in this life result in rewards in the life to come. (See 1 Corinthians 3:13-15.)
The Bible portrays death as a prelude to the resurrection. Death is not the end. Death is a transition. Death is a new beginning. There will be a reunion with loved ones. We will recognize one another. Vance Havner said upon the death of his wife, “I have not lost Sara because I know where she is. You haven’t lost anything when you know where it is. Death can hide but not divide.” The word “resurrection” means “to stand again.” This is a part of the blessedness of a Christian death. Death is also a blessing because, as Paul said, “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord”. Amos the prophet said, “Prepare to meet thy God.” Are you prepared? Will it be a blessing?
Dr. Faught is Pastor of The LaFollette United Methodist Church.