When David entrusted the kingdom to Solomon, he began with the words, “I go the way of all the earth.” Speaking from his deathbed, he reminded us that death is the common lot of mankind. It is one appointment we cannot cancel. In spite of scientific and medical advancements, we are helpless against death’s relentless march. But while we are helpless to stop it, we are not hopeless in death’s presence. God’s faithful child is encouraged knowing that heaven awaits.
Once we know that heaven awaits, death is never the same. Fear of death has been man’s constant companion since sin entered our world. But when heaven awaits, this fear has no power. By submitting to and overcoming death himself, Jesus has delivered us from the oppressive fear of death (cf. Hebrews 2:14-15). Just as our Lord’s, “be not afraid,” went forth over troubled seas calming his disciples’ fears (Matthew 14:26, 27), so these words today should calm the troubled hearts of the faithful – heaven awaits.
Often, death is characterized as the loss of physical life, but when heaven awaits, death is more about gain than loss. “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). Death is gain, for the troubles and cares of our fleeting days are exchanged for that land of fadeless day where pain and crying and sorrow are no more and all tear are wiped away. Death is gain, for it brings us into the joy and delight of God’s eternal presence.
Each day of our earthly existence is lived with the knowledge that death is coming. But for the faithful, that knowledge is tempered by the understanding that death is not the end, but rather the beginning of eternal life with God. No wonder the Bible says, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15), for when heaven awaits, death brings us home to God.