Prayer for the day
Our God is in heaven; whatever he wills to do, he does.
Scripture for the day
It’s not everyday you hear someone say things like Paul said things. Things like “I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” It’s often common for me to hear Christians declare their love for Jesus and their desire to serve. But I rarely come across people who are ready to die.
Being ready to die is not an easy thing to come to terms with. Most people list death at the top of the “things I’m afraid of” list. Death is rarely something we expect to embrace or even anticipate. Often the “Christian Life” is described as easy to new converts, something you just get used to. You pray, you read, and everything falls into place. Paul’s words and experiences move Christians away from easy believism to a place of true discipleship. This passage is as close as we come to Jesus’ statement in the Gospels that a true follower will take up his cross. For Paul, this is a literal thing, not simply a metaphor for when things get tough.
Of course, the lack of fear in the face of death, the readiness for death, does not prevent death. Paul will eventually die. The Psalmists will all eventually die. What allows them all to look at death as something not to be feared is the incredible love of God for his people.
The Psalmist, in the three Psalms for today, and in many others, regularly asserts the goodness and care of God for his people. The Psalmist, and Paul, do not want to die willy-nilly. They do, however, consider the will of God to be above and beyond their wants and desires, to re-order and change them so that they are properly set. They do not fear death because their God, our God, is the master of life and death!