Of Death and Taxes
It has often been said that the only things that are certain in this life are death and taxes. As the Federal tax deadline looms, many of us may be thinking about this statement. According to research I did on the internet, the average American pays almost 30% of their income in taxes each year, in the form of income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, and excise taxes (on things like fuel, tobacco, alcohol, and airline tickets). Welcome to Tax Day!
It is estimated that more than 45% of Americans pay zero Federal income tax, so it appears that part of the old statement may not be true. It is, actually, the other part of that statement I want to consider: Death. Yes, death will come to all of us. Unfortunately, many in our Fellowship family have had to deal with recent death – spouses, parents, siblings, extended family, and even children. With just a few notable exceptions (Enoch and Elijah), every person who has ever been born in this world has either died or will sometime in the coming decades. Death is a natural, normal stage of life. That knowledge, however, does little to blunt its impact when those of us who remain alive must deal with its consequences. Is there anything in life more gripping in its reality than a grieving survivor making the arrangements for a funeral service of a dear loved one? Sometimes, if one could be so objective, death could be seen as a relief for some, either for the one who has died, or for the one who has been caring for and loving the departed. Few, if any, who are intimately involved in the final moments of a loved one’s life will ever feel that death brings such relief. It is the pain of loss, of separation, of finality that we feel at that time. Death is the ultimate dividing line.
As I write this, it is Good Friday. Given its origin, you wonder where the name Good Friday could have come from, since it commemorates the death of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on the cross. It is a most solemn reminder of the certainty of death and its associated pain. Think of it, the Lord and Creator of all suffering an ignoble death by crucifixion? It is a thought so horrific that almost none of His disciples could be at the site of the cross to witness His death. His death and burial had disillusioned His followers; had left them uncertain and frightened about their future paths. How were they to go on without their teacher, their Messiah? What were they to do, now that their purpose in life was suddenly gone? Driven to despair and discouragement, they retreated to an upper room of some residence, hiding from the authorities who had taken their King, and mourning His loss with one another. As Jesus himself had uttered while on the cross, they were asking, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?”
Yes, many of us have at one time or another, felt abandoned and forsaken by God while suffering through the loss of a dear one. But then, somehow, the dawn of a new day begins to bring its light to our otherwise darkened existence. From our despondency, we are awakened to a hope. The core of this new start in our life is found not in the death of Good Friday, but in the amplified joy of Easter sunrise. Just as Mary found the tomb of Jesus to be empty, our hope is in a similar resurrection. Death is not the final separation we sometimes think it to be. Yes, each in our own turn will suffer a personal, physical death, that part is certain. But death in this life leads with the same certainty to a life hereafter and through all eternity. It is our joy to know that, because of Easter and the resurrection of our Lord, our eternity will be fixed in Him.
Apparently, neither death nor taxes is certain.
~ Hudd ~
Kevin Huddleston is an Elder at Fellowship at Cross Creek Church