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Saturday, 3 April 2010

Death - the real final frontier!

One of today's headline news items is the claim by the shadow Health Secretary that thousands of cancer sufferers are being denied life-extending drugs. I am not in a position to make any comment on the truth, or otherwise, of that claim. However, I do find the expression "life-extending" to be very interesting.

Obviously, most people want to live as long as possible, and to have a happy, productive, life. But is the basic problem in this situation not that we are afraid of death? Is this not why mankind is constantly endeavouring to extend life?

I suspect that the main part of that fear is the 'mystery' of what really does happen to us after our physical bodies have. In Hamlet's famous soliloquy, the English bard has the melancholy prince say: " To be or not to be– that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to sufferthe slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles and, by opposing, end them. To die, to sleep no more – and by a sleep to say we end the heartache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to – 'tis a consummation devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep; to sleep, perchance to dream. Aye, there's the rub, for in that sleep of death what dreams may come, when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause." (Hamlet, Prince of Denmark; Act III, Sc.1) The basic thought that is being suggested is that, not knowing what happens when we die, must make us stop to think about it.

This is where the disciple of Jesus has a hope that is based on the resurrection of Jesus which, in spite of many claims to the contrary, and attempted 'alternative' explanations for the empty tomb (of which millions will be thinking, tomorrow), has never been disproved.

"I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die like everyone else, will live again.", was His promise to the woman at the well (Jn.11:25). "There are many rooms in my Father's home, and I am going to prepare a place for you", He assured His disciples (Jn.14:2); "We know that the same God who raised our Lord Jesus will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself along with you", wrote Paul to the Corinthian believers (II Cor.4:14).

Today is the 'in-between' day. Good Friday is past; the Day of Resurrection has yet to come. But we have that knowledge that was not afforded to the early disciples. Let us rejoice, therefore that, whether death comes to us sooner or later, we may have a confidence that it is not the final word; and that for those who are "in Christ" (Eph.1:4 et al), it is, indeed, the doorway into His nearer presence, and eternity spent with Him.

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