Based on: 1 Corinthians 15:50-57
As we look back on her life let’s consider some of the victories in her life, some of those good things that happen to her, some little and some big. Of course she enjoyed spending time with her children and grandchildren and so every time she could have her family gather together, especially at Christmas time, that was a victory. Her victories also included things such as a winning scratch off lottery ticket or being able to drive her black Cadillac. And we could certainly include among those victories in her life, among those good things that happened to her, meeting and marrying her husband. Another victory is that she found out he could cook, she only wished she had found out even earlier.
We must also include in this list that our gracious Lord brought her to faith in her savior, Jesus Christ, through her baptism. She knew that she had made mistakes in her life, and not only that she made mistakes but that she at times disobeyed what God says in his Word. She also knew that Jesus Christ died for those sins, and that because of Jesus Christ she could look forward to eternal life in heaven with her Savior.
And she wanted to hear more about her Savior. She would watch the worship services on TV whenever possible. He would be sure to bring her the Meditations devotional booklet whenever they came out and she was always ready for me to come to her house and bring her a devotion and the Lord’s supper. Through all these things she heard God’s Word and, of course, she responded by regularly going to God in prayer.
If we call all these things victories in her life, then what about the other things that happened to her? What about the emphysema? Do we call that a defeat? No, I think God used that illness to bring her closer to himself. God tells us that he will use all things for our eternal good. What about her death? Is that defeat? Certainly not, through her death God has given her the greatest victory.
On Christmas day I was able to talk to her, and she told me that she was ready whenever the Lord decided to take her home. She said she was not afraid to die. She understood clearly these verses from First Corinthians 15, and she understood clearly that for the Christian death is not a defeat. For the Christian death is one of the means through which God gives believers the victory.
You see, Jesus Christ died the death of hell that we deserved, but then he rose again on Easter morning and proved that he conquered death. He has the victory over death. As Paul writes, "death has been swallowed up in victory." Now all those who trust in Jesus as their Savior from sin will also rise from death one day. We also have the victory over death.
She has this victory. When she died, death did not win. Through death God has released her from this sinful body. One day the Lord will return for this body. He says that on that last day when the trumpet sounds, "the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed." This body will be made perfect. Her emphysema and every other frailty that plagued her body will be gone. She has won a great victory and the same will one day be true for us. "Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."