Weekly Reflection (NEW!)
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Please read I Corinthians 15 (especially verses 50 - 58) in your Bible.
My father died. He was diagnosed with lung cancer in April. He just grew weaker and weaker from that time until he died on September 19. Graciously, he did not suffer any longer. His heart stopped. I spent the last week near Virginia Beach where my father lived saying good bye to him. One morning while I was there, I went for a jog on the beach. I arrived before the sun had risen, but I could tell that it was going to be a gloomy day. It was cloudy and windy, and thick gray clouds had gathered overhead. I jogged along the beach in the darkness alone with my thoughts.
I stopped running and walked for a while as the darkness gave way to a dim light. Other people had come out on the beach, but most of them were already heading for cover. It had started to rain. I turned back and began to jog again. As I ran along, I was looking at the surf and the high tide line. The tide had washed in the usual debris along with shells and skate egg cases. Then I noticed a dead puffer fish lying among the scattered reeds.
Puffer fish have a unique defense against predators. They puff up their bodies like a balloon to make it impossible for a predator to swallow them. Many species also have spines that stick out all over their bodies when they puff up. This puffer fish lying dead on the beach was stuck in the puffed up state. Death had come and the fish had used the only defense it could, but it was in vain.
There is no defense against death. Death will come to us all. Thanks be to God that death does not have the last word. We read in the scripture passage that death has been swallowed up in victory and that the sting of death has been removed. I miss my father and all the chances we were supposed to have to build our relationship. However, I do know that he lives in Christ and his life was not in vain. None of our lives are in vain because God has removed the victory and sting from death. God continues to love us in life, in death, and into life eternal.
Pray that God will give you the strength to be as verse 58 says: "be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain."