We received “death benefits” from 2 small insurance policies after my son Jacob died. The money was something we were really uncomfortable keeping around for too long. So we used it quickly by paying for a funeral, a wedding, a vacation and a few other miscellaneous things.
To be honest, we were glad when the money was gone. It felt as though the life of our son had a dollar value and we were benefiting from his death. The remembrance of this has captured my thinking lately. Doesn’t the very term death beneficiary sound absurd and cold I wondered. As I contemplated more deeply I came to the conclusion that it can be understood as cold and absurd, but for me, in many ways, it is warm and wonderful.
How does death benefit anybody in this life? When I considered this I contrasted the benefits I received from Jacob when he was living to the benefits I receive now that he is gone. There is a reason we call funerals a celebration of life; from his birth till his death he filled our days will with things that brought us happiness, joy and life. The day he died was the day that the benefits of life ended and the death benefits began. I am not talking about the death benefits I received from the settlements for that would be cold and absurd. So what are the death benefits I am currently receiving? Please consider the following before I reveal what they are.
The following statement goes against our normal way of thinking. Keep in mind that it was penned by the hand of man but inspired by the Spirit of God. Solomon said, “A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of one’s birth; better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for that is the end of all men; and the living will take it to heart. (Ecclesiastes 7:1-2 NKJV)
This is quite a contrast to consider. I remember well both of these days in Jacob’s life, his birthday and the day he died. I remember our joy as parents, I remember the joy of grandparents and his 2 year old sister when he was born. Also burned in my memory is the day that he died. I remember our sorrow, the grief of grandparents and the tears of his little brother and big sister.
Which day do I prefer most? Well, that goes without saying. But what exactly is Solomon saying? He is saying that the day my friends and family came to my home to mourn with us is better than the day of Jacobs birth. Why? Because nobody considers eternal matters at the birth of a baby but we certainly do when a 22 year old college student dies of an overdose This means that death has benefits, yes, even better benefits than the days we rejoice in.
Death and sorrow hushes our laughter and joy, we become sober minded and serious. When the death angel arrives and takes a life, those who remain are left behind to consider. Consider what? We are pressed to consider life and death itself. We wonder why life is filled with fleeting joy, mixed with much pain that ends in death. We are left considering and questioning, “What is the meaning of life?” and asking, “Is this all there is?” These are questions we might ask at any point in life, not just at a time of death. I think there are other questions that come out that I myself asked. Questions like, “Where were you God?” and “Why did you allow this God?” or “Do you not care God?”
Our darkest days are better for us in this regard. They give us opportunity to consider or reconsider what we believe about life and death, God and eternity. Death turns our attention to these matters and forces us to consider sobering questions, sobering questions like these. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” – Jesus (Matthew 16:26 ESV)
The death benefits
Losing a son and 3 other close loved ones in a 12 month period has tested and exposed what I believe to be true about God. It has caused me to consider. It has deepened my understanding of him in ways that the best times in life could never teach me. What are the death benefits I am receiving? They are the same spiritual benefits that I enjoyed before Jacob died, only better. I have a deeper faith in Jesus, I have a deeper hope through his Spirit, and I have a deeper love for God the Father.
Lately my death benefits have been of great encouragement to me. Jesus is teaching me many thing about faith, hope and love in John chapter 11. I cannot go into it at this time but watch for part 2 in the near future. Read what happened for yourself and you will find many of the death benefits woven into the story. You will discover that Jesus lets Lazarus die for the glory of God and the glory of the Son. You will learn that Jesus lets Lazarus die to increase the faith of the disciples. Jesus also lets Lazarus die to demonstrate his power over death thereby giving the disciples good hope and great consolation in the resurrection.But the greatest thing about the whole account is that Jesus loves his disciples and that Jesus loves me. This gives me hope, this gives me great encouragement to press on and to walk by faith.
Isn’t that what the world want’s more than anything? To love and be loved, to trust and be trusted, and to live in hope of a better future. Faith, hope and love. These are the death benefits of every Christian which Christ provided for us by his own death on the cross.
I am a death beneficiary! That may sound absurd to some but it is wonderful to me.