It's a powerful line from Paul's writings in the New Testament:
Where O death is your victory?
Where O death is your sting?
--1 Corinthians 15:55
It's this taunt-like banter that Paul delivers to the enemy of life. I've heard pastors preach epic, swag-tastic messages with this passage.
I've sang songs that powerfully claim and proclaim this verse.
It's at the heart of the message of the Gospel. My God has conquered the grave! Resurrection!
But lately I've thought on this verse and my answer?
Right here in our midst is death's victory.
Iraqi minority groups being targeted and enduring horrific things.
Robin Williams, caught in the sorrow and cloudiness of depression and a tragic medical diagnosis.
And any number of other instances.
Where is death's victory? Where is it's sting?
My cousin getting hit and killed in an accident in broad daylight as a 20 year old with his entire life ahead of him.
My dad's heart stopping right in front of me while I did CPR.
My mom's stroke and passing by herself in her home.
My daughter given 5 days to live and on a continual journey of fighting for her life for 3 years.
Where's the sting?
Right here, Paul. Right here.
Now I don't just believe the cross and resurrection, I'm banking on it with my entire life. My hope remains unwavering in a God who makes dead hearts beat again. He's proven Himself faithful and good and strong too many times to doubt or desert or deny.
But I can't muster the strength and courage to taunt death's impotence right now.
The void is here. The families that will never be the same. The sadness and depression that won't shake away. The sorrow.
Paul wasn't an idiot. He knew that death still had very tangible effects to those it touched.
But he knew the thing that stole death's destructive power.
That resurrection means the worst thing is never the last thing.
Jesus is the resurrection and the life.
And suddenly the pain dulls. And yet it doesn't.
Quickly the sting subsides. And yet it doesn't.
There's this immense tension.
Death wins the battle. Life wins the war.
Death suffocates. Life makes us catch our breath.
We're caught up in this story of immense heartache and audacious hope.
And I want you who feel the sting of death. Who feel the fear. Who battle the addiction. Who feel death's victory in your soul. Who have a perpetual cloud over you that steals your soul. Who are anxious. Who are sorrowful. Who are defeated. Who are sad. Who are broken and out of control. Who are hanging on by a thread.
And the God who took our sins upon Himself? Where is he when the sting is real and death's victory is obvious?
Hear his still small voice:
I'm right here too.