Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Last Thing The Devil Wants

Lately I've found it difficult to actually put together a complete weblog entry. I have plenty of thoughts and ideas swirling around in my head (and on my computer), but I can't seem to sit down and put them together cohesively. I think this inability stems from my officially starting up the school year last week. Getting fully immersed into readings as well working on my own writings has briefly stunted my weblog abilities. But I'm sure they'll return soon, as I get used to the work/school routine.

Anyway, I thought I could at least share a Christianity Today article with you, which I read last week. I find it very insightful, articulate and relevant to the issues surrounding the Persecuted Church.

Stephen Carter's article, "Despair Not: There is something worse than misery and death," discusses the importance of Christians refusing to give themselves over to pessimism and misery in the face of suffering---even death, which can seem to be the most evil of human sufferings.

Carter makes perceptive use of C.S. Lewis' book, The Screwtape Letters. I find the article's final paragraph especially powerful:

"C. S. Lewis's marvelous imagination...should remind us that this vision is dangerously wrong. The terrible tragedies that befall the world work to Satan's benefit only if we despair. Suffering, as Screwtape reminds his nephew, often strengthens faith. Better to keep people alive, he says, long enough for faith to be worn away. The death of a believer is the last thing the Devil wants."

Such words reminds us that, no matter how "tragic" death is, it is not actually the most severe threat to the Christian faith. Although the death of a believer can be a cause of grief and sorrow on earth, it is ultimately a reason for fellow Christians a reason to rejoice, when viewed in context of God's eternal kingdom. Christian martyrs testify to the hope that is found by having an unshakable faith in Jesus Christ. Thus, the devil does not rejoice in the death of a believer, he despairs over one more life given over to the Lord's final victory. Our God even uses death for his glory. It is a hard truth---one that can be difficult to bear in the face of loss---but it is also a comforting truth.

For me, this discussion about the role of death in the Christian life brought to mind the well-known and eloquent words of another great literary figure, John Donne. So I'll just leave off with them:

One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.
- "Death be not Proud" (Holy Sonnets: X)

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