Back in February of 1999, Chicago Bear great, Walter Payton announced he had a rare liver disease, and by the end of November he was dead. Sometime after his announcement another great NFL running back, Eric Dickerson asked him if he was scared. He said, “Yes I’m scared; I’ve never died before.” The prospect of death can be scary in part because we don’t know what to expect. We do not know what the cause of our death will be or how long or how severely we will suffer in the process of dying. Those things are unknowable, but it is what we do know that gives us confidence and will bring us comfort when that day comes.
The word of God says, “For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2Cor 5:1). Paul used the language of houses, buildings, and tents to describe our body. If our temporary, earthly body dies, we have an eternal, heavenly body in which we will live forever with the Lord. That new body is the one we will receive at the resurrection when Jesus returns. A few verses earlier, Paul said, “…we know that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up…” This is what we know! What confidence and comfort is ours as we live this life facing certain death!
What do we know about what happens to us if we die before the resurrection, before the Lord comes? Again the word of God gives the answer. “So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord” (2Cor 5:6&8). As soon as we die our spirit/soul goes to be with the Lord, and we will await the day that our bodies will be raised incorruptible! What hope we have as believers in Jesus Christ!