I remember many instances as a small child, tucked into bed with my favorite stuffed animals,
unable to drift off to sleep. It wasn’t monsters in the closet or under the bed that kept me awake.
No, the intrusive thought that would come bursting through just as I was drifting off to sleep
would be, “I’m going to die.” I would gasp, clutch my blanket, and pray for sleep. Pretty intense
for a kid, huh?
My concern was not that I was going to die immediately. I felt no danger at that moment. The
fear came, and rightly so, from simply acknowledging the truth that all humans die and there is
no preventing it. The illusion of control with which we as children and adults try to live quickly
dissipates with the reality that although we do not know how or when, we do know, with absolute
certainty, that we will die. Gasp. Pretty intense for an adult, huh?
Of course, it’s not simply death or the thought of passing on that unnerves us. The reality of
death does not stand alone. Passing on to what is just as daunting of an idea to ponder.
“Then what?” is the natural question to ask amongst both believers and those who claim to have
no faith. “Then what?” has sent many searching books, movies, Youtube, etc… Eager to read or
hear another’s account of their near-death experience. When we look to these resources, relief
might come for a moment, but the uncertainty turns us all back into children again at bedtime.
When we are faced with a question as daunting as “What happens when we die?” nothing but a
solid answer from our Savior Himself will suffice.
“Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)
This statement of reassurance, which was spoken to a redeemed criminal hanging on his own
cross next to Jesus, should reassure all who confess Christ as Lord that we too will
immediately be united with Christ in paradise when we die.
The cross doesn’t just answer the “then what?” question of death. When we face some of the
most challenging questions in life as Christians, we can run to the scene of the cross for
Why is there injustice in the world? There is no easy-to-swallow answer, but the scene of the
cross displays the most magnificent injustice of all time. An innocent Savior was crucified
according to His Father’s plan.
What if my loved one didn’t believe until their deathbed? The scene of the cross teaches us that
the promise was for the criminal on his cross death bed. No one confesses it without the help of
the Spirit, a sign in and of itself that we are His. (1 Corinthians 12:3)
What happens if we aren’t able to be baptized before we die? Safely assuming that the thief
next to him had never been baptized, the scene of the cross shows us, that paradise still awaits
us as it did the criminal.
Is it okay to question God? The scene of the cross displays a Savior, abandoned by His Father,
crying out, “Why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)
And finally: What happens when we die? Then what? The scene of the cross tells us that all that
separates us from an eternity of paradise with our Savior, is our moment of death.
With Christ as your righteousness, take comfort. Breathe deeply and sleep well. Paradise