Taunting Death

Rebecca Van Noord

My best friend’s mother, a dear family friend, died of Lou Gehrig’s disease (als). Over the span of three years, the disease attacked her nerve cells, starting with her hands and feet and moving inward to her vital organs. Every time I visited her, she would be changed—her cane became a wheelchair, and her warbled words were muffled into silence. Although she was fully alert, she slowly lost the ability to communicate her feelings and needs. In the end, only her eyes displayed the tumultuous feelings underneath. Those who confront the reality of death or the death of a loved one don’t doubt their own fallibility. They are closely acquainted with the reality that so many strangely disregard. And they cling to the hope of the resurrection that Paul eloquently relays, and that the Corinthians were slow to understand and believe: “We will all be changed, in a moment, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (1 Cor 15:51–52). Christ’s death and victory over sin and death bring this life to those who believe in Him. His victory is the cause for Paul’s subsequent taunting of death—taunts that rip through with joy for those who realize Christ’s victory: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? Now the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” (1 Cor 15:55–57). Lest we think we are any different, the process of death is happening to us and to those around us. Lou Gehrig’s disease is a fast-forward version of the human existence. Why, then, do we keep quiet about the hope within us? “So then … be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor 15:58).

How are you displaying and sharing the good news?

Barry, J. D., & Van Noord, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.