Paul’s plan to die was to increase the worship of Heaven (see yesterday’s post), but that did not make Paul callous to the earthly process of dying. He is a man who was much afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down by the suffering of this life. Paul’s plan to die included courage—courage enough to face the worst of dying with spiritual vitality.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (ESV)

What gives us the courage to die the day that the Lord calls us home?

Firstly, our courage to face death comes from contrasting our physical vitality to our spiritual vitality. It is gloriously true that, as life seems to drain from our bodies over the course of this earthly life, our souls seems to excel! When there is less comfort in this world, we find greater comfort in the word of God. When there is great pain in this world, we find relief in heavenly meditations. When there is increasing weakness in our bodies, we find greater strength in our prayers to God. When we increasingly cannot fulfil our physical responsibilities, we still find grace to fulfil our spiritual responsibilities. Our courage to face death comes from the inverse relationship between our bodies and our spirit.

Secondly, our courage to face death comes from comparing our degree of present suffering to our degree of future glory. Present suffering, though great by itself, is “momentary” and “light” compared to the “eternal weight” of future glory. Our courage to face death is not a mere “going to a better place”, but is “going to a place that is more glorious that our suffering was painful.”

Thirdly, our courage to face death comes from replacing our focus. Our courage fails us, and we lose heart, when we look at our earthly bodies undergoing earthly suffering. But we take courage anew again when we look to Christ, and to Heaven, and to the Cross, and to the Father’s glory. Even Jesus, in his full humanity, endured the cross because of a prayer for “not my will, but Thine be done”!

It takes courage to die. But that courage comes in abundance to all who will renew their souls, understand the glory of Heaven, and look past this world to that which is to come.