Death, Where Is Thy Sting?

My junior year of high school I had the high honor of being office aid during first period. Proudly carrying a pass that signaled freedom to one lucky student, I would stealthily enter classroom after classroom, thirty greedy eyes fixed on me silently willing me to choose them. It was a powerful and fulfilling position. But as the day progressed and the tables turned, I was far less noble than all of you, who I am sure rejoiced for the newfound, hard-earned freedom of your friends. I, on the other hand, barely made the effort to resist the urge to trip my friends on their way out the door as they giddily gathered up their things and checked out early. I never passed up the opportunity to mouth,

“You jerk”.

Until my brother got checked out early. I knew that he truly deserved it. My heart rejoiced for him. It took me a while to understand, to realize that the cancer hadn’t won– that when we serve Jesus, sickness and death never win. It took a while to realize that he was just being the overachiever he always was. That he had finished up his work early, and got to check out early. It took a while to realize that while my heart was broken, he was having the time of his life, shooting hoops with Jesus and playing drums on heaven’s praise and worship team.

One thing I have learned: sickness and death NEVER win, because at their absolute worst all they can do is push me into the arms of my Savior, the only thing that was ever truly worth living for.

I have often heard it said: NO PAIN, NO GAIN. Many of us do not mind a little pain if it shapes our bodies into an image that is more pleasing to the mirror, or into a more accomplished athlete. So why do we mind the pain that transforms us into the image of Christ upon this Earth? Now please hear me, (and resist the urge to get your theological panties in a bunch) I am not saying Jesus makes us sick. Clearly, that is the devil’s domain. What I am saying is that Jesus can and will work all, all, all things together for our good and his glory if we will allow him to. Do I particularly enjoy the days that I wake up in such pain that tears streak my face and a slight tremble begins? No. But I enjoy that it pushes me closer still to the heart of my savior. The book of James tell us to rejoice in tribulation because of what it produces in our lives.

SO check this out: On my healthy days, I’m winning. On my sick days. I’m winning. Because of Jesus- all I can do is win. Like the apostle Paul, if I live, I win. If I die, I win. The funny thing about winning is that it often doesn’t feel like winning until we cross the finish line, even though we’ve been winning all along. With each seemingly never-ending step of thrusting our bodies forward, of running our race, of moving towards the finish line, towards the prize of Jesus, we’ve been winning. Even though the winning might have felt more like slowly dying. So I ask you death, where is thy sting?

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