The Bible is clear. In the opening account of the beginnings of human history we learn that our earliest forbears disobeyed their Creator and suffered punishment, as they had been warned. That punishment is death – cruel, ugly, horrible, unnatural death. That is our inheritance from that beginning to this day. Death is the consequence of sinful disobedience. Trivialise death and you trivialise sin.
I do not fear death. There are reasons why I would welcome it, but I definitely have no thought of ending my present life. I want all that to be clear.
Like most people, I have never been pre-occupied with thoughts of death or dying. However, also like most people, death has been no stranger in my life. I was a teenager when my sister died and later my mother. My mother’s death, in tragic circumstances, deeply affected me. I had thoughts then about there being some deeper meaning to life. Mum had taught me prayers as a child, and I had been to Sunday School, but I had more questions than answers on life. Dad died the year after I was married, and one brother a few years later. My closest brother died later still, and after sixty-eight years together, my dear wife departed last year. I am acquainted with death.
A dictionary definition of ‘death’ says:
1/ Final cessation of vital functions;
2/ Event that terminates life.
This turns us to the meaning of ‘life’ where the definition is not so simple. In fact, it is lengthy and complicated. Personally, I think of words like ‘being’ and ‘existing’. Briefly, one has to know about life to understand death.
In this enlightened age we tend to ‘go online’ for more information about most things. So, I searched ‘death and dying’, and wow! I was surprised. What I had always understood to be a taboo subject was up front there. I was presented with many options as to where I could go for information: ‘Goodreads.com’ offered me 1,347 quotes on death and dying. Among other options were ‘Death is nothing at all’, ’82 death quotes that comfort and inspire you’, ‘119 death quotes that will bring relief’, and there were many others. Those that I sampled were generally upbeat about death, and I was supposed to feel warmed and reassured after reading them.