Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?
1 Corinthians 15:55
We have seen and heard of hundreds of people losing their lives these last weeks in floods all around the world. From Brisbane to Sri Lanka and from Brazil to the Philippines. What devastation. What loss.
As the earth groans and longs for its redemption, meanwhile it is subjected to frustration. Creation tosses and turns in pain – like in childbirth. And we creatures who live on the earth suffer its writhing and decay. At times that groaning spills over into physical death for earth’s inhabitants. Such as in floods and earthquakes; in storms and landslides; in droughts and eruptions.
Our prayers go out to all those suffering immensely from the recent disasters. They know only too well how victorious death seems to be – and how much it hurts.
So how can Paul say, “where is death’s sting?” How inconsiderate and callous, it is even rude to suggest that death causes no pain.
But we misunderstand Paul’s focus when we write off death’s current sting. The previous verse to the one quoted above explains when that saying will come true. It is not yet. It is when all things are made new. It is only then, on that great Day, that we can say with all sincerity that death has been swallowed up in victory!
Until that Day, death very much stings – (though for them who believe it is the final gate to eternal life) – and so we wait and endure patiently. We mourn with those who mourn and we provide for those in need; we do not ignore death’s sting, saying that it has none.
We acknowledge the cursed world in which we live, but we rejoice in the certain hope that is to come. The hope of final victory over death. When it shall no longer reign and dangle its tentative power over our heads. What a Day! We press on now – confidently, because of that wonderful joy that is to come.