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September 28, 2020- The Longness of Death

In 1994, Elizabeth Wurtzel wrote Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America, an incredible autobiographical account of her struggle with depression. In one place she said, “I explain the same thing to everybody: It all seems pointless in light of the fact that we’re all going to die eventually. Why do anything—why wash my hair, why read Moby-Dick, why fall in love, why sit through six hours of Nicholas Nickleby, why care about American intervention in Central America, why spend time trying to get into the right schools, why dance to the music when all of us are just slouching toward the same inevitable conclusion? The shortness of life, I keep saying, makes everything seem pointless when I think about the longness of death. When I look ahead, all I can see is my final demise.” (Wurtzel, Elizabeth. Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America (pp. 28-29). HMH Books. Kindle Edition.)

Whether depressed or not, the young woman was making a very logical, rational point. In the long run, we’re all dead anyway, right? As Japanese writer Haruki Murakami wrote: “I stare at this ceaseless, rushing crowd and imagine a time a hundred years from now. In a hundred years everybody here—me included—will have disappeared from the face of the earth and turned into ashes or dust.” (Kafka on the Shore (Vintage International) (p. 52). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.)

So, one could logically and rationally ask, What’s the purpose of it all? Why not just have your fun and, well, just have your fun? What else matters? In fact, even the apostle Paul thought the same thing, writing: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!” (1 Corinthians 15:32). There was, however, a context to Paul’s words, a context that means everything.

And that context was the death and resurrection of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:12-15). That context was Christ’s victory of death (1 Corinthians 15: 54-57), That context was the great promise that: “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:51-53).

Without Christ, “the longness of death” would be enough to depress anyone. With Christ, we can, with Paul, rejoice that, thanks to Jesus, “the last enemy that will be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:26).

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