“Ivan Ilych’s life had been most simple and most ordinary and therefore most terrible.”
Some may recognize this quote as a Leo Tolstoy construction from his work, The Death of Ivan Ilych. This novella presented an allegorical confrontation of death and the fear of thereof.
Infamous religious skeptic, Cesare Borgia, exclaimed as his life slipped from him on his deathbed,
“While I lived, I provided for everything but death; now I must die, and am unprepared to die.”
These two quotes paralleled speak volumes of why people fear death.
Before I continue, I must confess that I understand the hesitancy and consistent plague of reality that says that one day your mortal body will die.
There is a fear of dying ordinary, unprepared, and longing for an absolute answer of “what’s next?”
Famous Puritan theologian Richard Baxter seemed to know the answer as he stated in his last words,
“I have pain—but I have peace, I have peace.”
He had peace in eternity. It was reconciled in his mind that death is more than blackness and absence of consciousness. He knew that was not going to be consumed by unending flames. Baxter was convinced that his life had meaning.
But how could he be sure?
How can we be sure?
We all feel a longing and calling to eternity (Ecclesiastes 3:11). This God instilled longing is often recklessly ignored or rejected for the span of an individual’s life. Know this however. It also often has the last space vacant in the mind of an unbeliever.
For the Christian, believing in the Gospel of Jesus Christ is where this possibly frightening reality is reconciled in mind and heart.
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
But be encouraged! Not only do we have eternal life but comfort in the truth that Christ gives value to life here on Earth until the redemption of our glorified bodies.
You can be a “new” creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Lean into this truth today and believe in Christ’s finished work (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). And if you believe, praise God.
For you can share in the words of Richard Baxter.
“But I have peace, I have peace.”