1 Corinthians 15: 55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
Several years ago, the Lord took our family away from our country home and moved us to the outskirts of Toronto (a place we would have never pictured being). There was much pain for our family in the leaving but one of the highlights were some key friends at our new church. My wife Colleen, and I were excited to find some kindred athletic spirits. Weekly cycling rides started at Mark’s place with his son Jonathan and often cousin Craig Dungan would join. Craig was one of those guys who could make anyone smile. With a South African accent, he’d throw out some crazy one-liners that would nearly cause me to leave the road and kiss the gravel (they’d usually have something to do with his view of my backside and my form-fitting cycling shorts). Beyond his humor, however, Craig was one of the most encouraging men I have ever met. When Mark, Felicity, Colleen and I decided to take on the entrepreneurial world, Craig was there every step of the way, offering practical technical support, but more importantly, constant moral support.
A few years back Craig was diagnosed with cancer. Mustering his athletic grit, he battled through the disease fighting for his beautiful wife and two daughters, outliving the doctors’ predictions by almost 5 years. But Craig went home to be with the Lord – his battle now done. Craig has left a significant hole. This world was a much better place with him here. His family and his friends mourn his passing, but I also cannot help but be happy for my friend. Craig knew that this was not his ultimate home, but rather that he was here temporarily. 14 For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. (Hebrews 13:14)
I don’t know why the Lord took Craig at such an early age, but I do know where to go for encouragement during this difficult time – God’s Word.
54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15: 54-57)
Craig may be gone from this earth, but he is celebrating in heaven because Christ died on the cross for his sins, and Christ rose again having victory over death. Craig accepted Christ into his life; he accepted the free gift given to him and he is now enjoying the victory which was won on the cross. The sting of Craig’s death will be felt for many, many years, but the prophet Hosea asks rhetorically: “Where, O death is your sting?”. You see as children of God, Christ turned death upside down. He turned defeat into victory.
So how do we, those who remain, move on? Paul concludes the former passage saying, 58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15: 58). We carry on the work that the Lord has for each of us to do. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10). We mourn, we miss, and we move forward. In doing so we honor the Lord and we honor the memory of our friends like Craig.