Recently, I sat across from a friend who had just attended a funeral. We chatted and laughed a bit before I asked the dreaded question, “So, how are you really doing?” She sighed for a bit and then gave me the oddest answer that stuck with me, “I’m really sad, but I’m always thankful for the grief because it serves as a reminder that this world is not our home.” As tears gently made their way down her cheeks, she recited the famous words we read today in 1 Corinthians 15, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? 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!” For the rest of our time together we sat there solemnly reflecting on legacy and how a life poured out for the sake of the kingdom is a life well lived.
This passage in 1 Corinthians 15 is a powerful one because it reminds us that this world is not our home, and that these bodies we’ve been given, even they will pass away and be renewed one day! Verses 50-57 tell us that even the most devastating thing that happens on this earth – death – has been conquered and turned into a victory for those who are in Christ.
Friends, this is good news! For the person wrestling with illness and disease, this is what we look forward to. For the widow, the bereft, the heartbroken, this victory we have in Christ can turn our mourning into gladness because it points us to an unchanging hope that we have in Christ. We yearn for the day when all things (our bodies, our relationships, our heartaches) are mended and made right in Christ. Until that day we are a people of hope who are firmly rooted in the promises of God’s Word.
What does this passage say that looks like? What do we do until that glorious day comes?
Look at 1 Corinthians 15:58: “So then, dear brothers and sisters, be firm. Do not be moved! Always be outstanding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
Friends, regardless of our ever-changing circumstances we are called to be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. This is a holy calling to faithfulness. It’s trusting that what the Lord has promised, He absolutely will do. It means looking sickness and death in the eyes, and although we grieve and hurt and weep, we do so as a people who have hope in an everlasting life that has conquered death. It means that we boldly proclaim that one day, when the dead in Christ rise, God will wipe every tear from our eyes. It means that as a people of hope, we work for the Lord and His kingdom – not striving for our own kingdoms here on earth, but building an eternal one. We do this by stewarding our time, resources, and relationships for an eternal glory, knowing that our labors (both big and small, seen and unseen) are not in vain if they are in Christ.
This does not mean that while we wait we don’t hurt, grieve, or that we ignore the pain. People of hope don’t ignore grief, brokenness, and heartache. Instead, they wrestle with it, knowing that in all things there is victory found through Jesus Christ our Lord. People of hope know that life, in all its beauty, can be painstakingly hard, but we know that our God’s promise of one day righting every wrong is good and true. While we wait on Him, we commit ourselves to the work of the Lord, knowing that these mortal bodies will ache and fade and eventually pass away. Our hope isn’t found in earthly comforts, but in Christ alone.
This week, spend time reflecting on what it looks like to be steadfast and abounding in the work of the Lord in your own life. Pray and ask God for wisdom for how this truth can transform your daily thoughts and actions. As you go, remember the victory we have in Christ that enables us to live as beloved brothers and sisters, working faithfully for the Lord.
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