Have you ever been stung by a bee? Have you ever been stung by a bee eight times all at once? This was my unfortunate experience last week on a long run. I was on a wide path bordered by the most beautiful flowering bushes when all of a sudden, I felt as though I had been pierced in the hip by a poison blow dart. It was excruciating. Then the sensation repeated itself seven more times as the vicious agent of hell continued to attack, landing on my neck, arms, back, and even my face. I kept running and took my hat off to swat at it, to no avail. I may or may not have spewed a string of words that no clergy member should even know, much less say.
Worst of all, it happened at mile 5 in a 10-mile run with no way to get home except to run. I should have just stopped and called an Uber.
The aftereffects stayed with me for days. I was nauseated, dizzy, itchy, and generally felt puny. I developed roving hives for 24 hours that would appear and disappear in different places on my body at will. I still have a small crater on my cheek and red patches that haven’t faded.
That nasty bee sure did leave its sting!
But praise be to God, death won’t.
In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul wrote these beautiful and cherished words about the impotence of death in the face of the strength of Christ:
1 Corinthians 15 (Contemporary English Version)
50 My friends, I want you to know that our bodies of flesh and blood will decay. This means they cannot share in God’s kingdom, which lasts forever. 51 I will explain a mystery to you. Not every one of us will die, but we will all be changed. 52 It will happen suddenly, quicker than the blink of an eye. At the sound of the last trumpet the dead will be raised. We will all be changed, so we will never die again. 53 Our dead and decaying bodies will be changed into bodies that won’t die or decay. 54 The bodies we now have are weak and can die. But they will be changed into bodies that are eternal. Then the Scriptures will come true,
“Death has lost the battle!
55 Where is its victory?
Where is its sting?”
This is a passage that is read often at funerals, and it brings much comfort to the bereaved. The mystery of God’s prevenient gift of eternal life is something we can cling to when our loved ones die. It is a lifeboat of hope when we contemplate our own passing. God gave Jesus the victory over death itself, and we can stake our very lives on that fact.
56 Sin is what gives death its sting, and the Law is the power behind sin. 57 But thank God for letting our Lord Jesus Christ give us the victory!
58 My dear friends, stand firm and don’t be shaken. Always keep busy working for the Lord. You know that everything you do for him is worthwhile.
So, keep working toward that day. Don’t be shaken! Keep singing, praising, worshipping, studying, and being busy for God. All of this will soon pass away, but the love of the Lord lasts forever.
Just keep running.