This morning there was a letter to the editor of an Edmonton daily paper that expressed the opinion that the current no smoking campaign was just a passing fad, and that all of us are “terminal” anyway. The attitude was fatalistic: “why fight anything that will kill you — death is unavoidable, so don’t bother to do anything about it.”
My first response was a rather caustic “He probably smokes two packs a day and doesn’t want anyone telling him to stop.”
Then I wondered if he really had thought through his argument. If it was applied to all aspects of living, then scientists should not look for cures for disease, we should allow our children to play in traffic, wars are not important to avoid, and don’t bother with warm clothing or heating our homes and cars. After all, we are all going to die sometime. It compares to tossing your pay cheque to the wind with an “oh well, it will all be gone by the end of the month anyway!”
A fatalist does have a certain sense of reality. It is true, every life is terminal. God says “It is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27) Hebrews 2:14-15 says that the fear of death brings people into bondage and certainly fear of death could motivate an anti-smoking campaign.
Neither have the complete answer. The frantic efforts of people under pressure against a fear of dying, or a fatalistic resignation to its inevitability do nothing to help us understand it, or prepare for it.
Whatever we may think about death, God says that it was the power possessed by the enemy, the devil. (Also in Hebrews 2)
The good news is that little word “was.” The power of death is no longer in enemy hands. It has been broken by One who submitted to it, then conquered it. When Jesus rose from the dead He conquered the ultimate weapon of Satan. Jesus offers the same conquering power to those who believe in Him.
No one need fear death. Neither do any of us need to resign ourselves to its inevitability. The Word of God was written so we “can be certain that we have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13) That does not give us license to throw away this life, but we can enjoy it, deeply enjoy it, if we know that is not all there is.