To be honest, death really scares me, though not in the same way I get scared by horror movies and flying cockroaches. It’s the uncertainty of death I find absolutely frightening—there is no way of knowing when the “unwanted visitor” is going to come a-knocking, and no way of bolting the door.
The slew of media reports on the passing of Singapore’s founding father Mr Lee Kuan Yew, splashed continuously on television screens and newspapers last week, had me thinking about death over and over again. While his death ought not to have come as a surprise—considering his age and state of health—it was a shock to realize that a formidable man like him had actually died.
As I reflected on the state funeral, which coincided with Palm Sunday, Psalm 43:5 came to mind.
“Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.”
While Singapore has indeed lost a great statesman, we have not lost our source of hope. The Lord reminds us not to put our trust in men, who have but breath in their nostrils. Instead, we are encouraged to put our hope in God, who sent His son Jesus into the world to be our Saviour. Jesus Christ has died and risen, overcoming death once and for all. As Romans 6:8–10 says, “Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.”
Physical death is a part of my journey of intimacy with Christ, taking me a step closer to finally meeting Him face to face. Dr Chua How Chuang, a missionary I loved and respected, had this to say (before he went home to be with the Lord in March this year): “Indeed when a loved one or we ourselves fall critically ill, our immediate reaction is to pray for healing. I wonder if that reaction does not reflect an unconscious love for the things of this world than of things above.”
Now that I know for certain that there is hope even in death, my perspective on critical illness and earthly suffering is beginning to change. Instead of shying away and being at a loss for words at a person’s deathbed, I want to share this hope I have because of Jesus Christ’s death on the cross for me.