The bumper sticker says: “Life is hard. Then you die.”
The T-shirt says: “Life is short. Play hard.”
A famous American author whose son was dying of a brain tumor advised the boy: “Live life while you can and die and be done with it.”
The Epicureans of ancient times said: “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” Not much different than the beer commercial of a few decades back: “You only go around once in life, so grab for all the gusto you can.”
The world’s message is: “To live is to have fun; to die is disappointment. To live is to find happiness. To die is to be forgotten. To live is me. To die is the loss of my very self.”
But our authority disagrees with all of these. Our authority is the Spirit-inspired apostle of Jesus Christ, St. Paul.
Paul tells the Thessalonians: “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you do not grieve in the same way as the others, who have no hope. Indeed, if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, then in the same way we also believe that God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus” (1 Thess. 4:13-14 EHV).
In similar fashion, Paul wrote to the Philippians: “Yes, for me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I am to go on living in the flesh, that will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet which should I prefer? I do not know. I am pulled in two directions, because I have the desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far. But, it is more necessary for your sake that I remain in the flesh” (Philippians 1:21-24 EHV).
Paul has no morbid death wish, no whining desire to die simply out of selfishness, to escape the cross Christ calls him to bear, to desert his post.
He knows that his Father will set the hour for death’s curfew to call him home. He knows that if God still has work for him to do, he will remain at his post – preaching, teaching, putting up with whatever comes his way.
Neither does he care to cling to this life by his fingernails as though this life is all there is. He trusts that the One who died and rose again has transformed death into the door to life eternal. To be with Christ is better by far. Christ alone is the Help of the helpless and the Hope of the hopeless.