At one time or another you have probably heard the expression: “The elephant in the room.” It’s used to describe a major issue which everyone is aware of, but no one wants to talk about. A husband and wife who can’t agree on priorities for the family budget may skirt the issue by talking about the weather. But the “elephant” is still there getting in the way. Employees of a company rumored to be closing may discuss last night’s ballgame, but what’s really on their mind is the “elephant” of possibly losing their jobs.
What would you say is the biggest “elephant” of all? Isn’t it the subject of death? Almost everyone feels uncomfortable talking about it, and yet everyone knows it’s there. No matter how many plans are made for the future, life on earth sooner or later comes to an end. Moses writes, “The length of our days is seventy years—or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away” (Ps. 90:10).
How do you cope with the elephant in the room? It doesn’t help to ignore it. Sooner or later it has to be faced. It’s too massive for us to budge. That’s why God in love sent Jesus. The Son of God became our brother to face death head-on and overcome it for us. As our representative Jesus endured the death we deserved because of our sins. He suffered separation from God and the torture of hell in our place. He cried out, “It is finished!” and breathed His last. And He won! He rose from death, never to die again. He rose as the assurance that we too will be raised from the dead with perfect, glorified bodies to live forever in glory. “Death has been swallowed up in victory!” (1 Cor. 15:54).
By God’s grace we don’t have to live with the elephant in the room. “Christ Jesus has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:10). We don’t have to fear talking about it or wonder what to say. Death’s grip has been broken once and for all, and that sets us free to truly live life to the full in the present and to anticipate even greater things to come. Tomorrow’s readings emphasize that Christ’s victory over death is our personal victory by faith.