In the midst of life

Every day we hear reports of people who have died. The daily global number of deaths is around 150,000 people. People die in the wars in Yemen, Sudan, and Ukraine. Starving children die. Old people die in care homes. Seriously sick people die in hospitals. New-born babies die and sometimes their mothers also die. Death comes to people of all ages. Every day families mourn much loved relatives as they gather with friends at funeral services. One day we must all face death – “the last enemy”.

Why do we all die? The Bible teaches that at the beginning death was not part of God’s world. The universality of death can be traced back to the first man Adam who died because he disobeyed God’s command. From that day on all people descended from him have also died. We all share in Adam’s sinful nature which is why we commit sins against God every day. The accumulated total of our sins is massive. The cost to our world of universal human sinfulness is vast. Ignoring human sin or trying to change God’s moral Law does not change the fact that we have all failed and fall short of God’s standard and, so, we die.

Funeral services using the Book of Common Prayer often include a prayer which says, “In the midst of life we are in death. To whom may we look for help, but from you, Lord, who for our sins are justly displeased? Yet, Lord God most holy, Lord most mighty, holy, and most merciful Saviour, deliver us from the bitter pains of eternal death.”

This prayer teaches us some important truths. Our sins are against God, yet it is to him we can look for help as we face all-conquering death. No-one else can help us. God is displeased with our sins but is both holy and merciful. Out of his great love God sent his one and only Son, Jesus, to be the Saviour of the world. He accomplished the great work of salvation when he died on the cross to pay for us the penalty due to our sins. Then on the third day he rose from the dead. By his resurrection Jesus destroyed the power of death and brought immortality to light. Jesus “delivers us from the pains of eternal death.” When we confess our sins and receive Jesus as our Saviour God forgives us and gives us the gift of eternal life. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.”

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