This morning, I was sweating on the treadmill in my basement before work–still laboring to keep one of my New Year’s resolutions in the second week of 2018. Besides the sound of the belt rotating, there was the invisible narrator speaking to me from out my phone, reciting to me the myth of the Völsungs. The narrator helping me to stay focused upon my task.
I had about only five minutes left of my routine, when I recall hearing such amazing words from the Norse myth, which penetrated straight through my chest to my heart: “Fear not death, for the hour of your doom is set and none may escape it.” The Norse were a pretty pessimistic people, as can be seen by their myths and legends, such as how only two persons (a man and a woman) will survive the day of Ragnarök (the end of the world). A cataclysm that even most of their gods will meet their doom in, such as Thor and Odin. Nevertheless, they still have a saying that understands a moral which is greatly needed in the United States, that death is not something that should be feared.
Is it natural to fear death? Sure. There is fear that comes from the unknown. However, without fear, there is no courage. For just because something is frightening, doesn’t mean that we should try to avoid it at all costs, but instead to find the bravery to embrace it, to overcome it. The sea has been greatly feared by many generations, yet still we sail boats on it. But, isn’t hiding from death the message that our culture is constantly telling us to do with its adds, magazines, commercials, and billboards? Dye your hair, remove your wrinkles, get on medications–do everything that it takes to keep a young complexion and to live as long as you can. (Sounds like a culture who doesn’t believe in an afterlife.) Now, I’m not saying that there’s anything evil about these things, but there’s nothing wrong with looking old either, “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life” (Proverbs 16:31).
Not one age is better than another–though our culture disagrees. Yet, for those who embrace their Christian spirituality, they can know this life is not all that there is. Therefore, why fear the grave? Are we not called to die twice even? buried both in water and in earth?
As the book of Ecclesiastes makes clear, death is the great equalizer. It knows no bias. For no matter if you’re wise or foolish, rich or poor, young or old, you will one day meet death.
Therefore, are you ready for that day? If you believe this physical form is all there is, then perhaps not. However, if you embrace the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, then there is no reason to fear what is to come. There is no reason to try to fight it, hide from it, or try to reverse it. Will we miss those who meet this fate before we? Absolutely–it hurts to be separated from those whom we love, nor is it wrong for us to grieve for them. But samely, we have no reason not to embrace death like an old friend, if we know that we’ll be with the One Who we call Father, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14).
That is the power of Christ! To have hope, even when the grave draws near. If the pessimistic Vikings had reason not to fear death, how much more do we who are safe under the blood of Christ have reason to embrace it?
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55)