Probably nothing in life brings more tension than the thought of life ending. Death brings with it many fears, many unknowns, and many tears. As a result, most people avoid thinking seriously about death because for them to do so would bring great trials of their own souls. They would actually have to face those fears, unknowns, and tears head on. Therefore, some joke about death, some think only of their legacy, and some use the cares of this present life to drown out any thoughts of their final passing.
Christians think and feel very differently about death. There are still some fears, some unknowns, and some tears that come with death. The difference, however, lies in that there is also hope. Paul tells believers in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 that we do not have to sorrow because there is hope. Hope, for the Christian, is bound together with the resurrection of Jesus. He has risen again. Christians will rise again. This hope makes death for the Christian (for the saint) vastly different than most of the unbelieving world.
Recently a true saint in our congregation passed away. In talking to him, I know that there were some fears, some unknowns, and some tears but his hope rose above them all. Up until his last breath his focus seemed to always be upon serving others. He encouraged me in the things of the Lord and the gospel every time I visited him. His love for Christ showed itself in his witness of the saving power of Jesus to those around him. His hospice care nurse said of him that it is always a blessing being with people who have peace about where they are going. She relayed that they do not fuss about trivial issues and are far less agitated with the whole process of death. Several people reported to me that on the day he died, his face was at peace: no tension.
For the Christian, death has no ultimate sting and cannot claim final victory. Through Jesus Christ and his work on the cross, sin, sin’s power, and sin’s curse of death are crushed. Hope holds on. For the saint, death simply opens the door for hope to be seen.