There are certain biblical passages that I hold close to my heart because I hear them so often and know them so well. Psalm 23. John 3:16. John 14 (in my Fathers house there are many mansions….). One of today’s readings is just like that. When I read it, I just felt my heart leap up. I found myself saying it out loud as I read it. It’s one of those passages that just really speaks to my heart and speaks God’s grace to our lives. Listen to what we are told in 1 Corinthians 15: 51-55:
51 Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled:
“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
This passage is part of the graveside service within the United Methodist Book of Worship. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve read this passage to families that are grieving, and I have myself heard to read to me, in the midst of my grief.
It ends with that flourish – death has been defeated. Where death, is your victory? Where death is your sting? Death is defeated. It has been defeated forever by the victory of Christ upon the cross and through the empty grave.
Death has a moment of victory, the moment of darkness, sadness, and grief. In the war against death, yes, that enemy has its moment of victory. But, the enemy death loses in the end, because Christ has triumphed over sin, death, and the grave.
This is to never minimize the pain that we feel in that moment. We have all felt it. We may be feeling it right now. Or, we will feel it in our future. But that pain of death does not hold for us the final word.
Because of this mystery. Death is defeat. Life wins.
Today, if you are heartbroken in life, hold on. Death will not win. I don’t understand those mysteries of God. I don’t know how it all works. But I know this. Death has been swallowed up in victory.
If you are heartbroken today, hold on. LIfe wins. Even if you may not feel it, or even believe it, life wins. That is the mystery of Christ, that is the hope of Christ, that it is the victory of Christ.
Life wins. Even in darkness. Life wins.