By Elder Gerald DeForest Tyler
“For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks (Psalms 6:5)? The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence. But we will bless the Lord from this time forth and for evermore. Praise the Lord (Psalms 115:17-18).” When I read passages like this, I think of some of the many promises the Israelites made to both God and Moses their leader; but most importantly to God himself after he delivered them from Egyptian captivity, bondage, and slavery at the hands of Pharaoh and his army. And then those same Israelites turned right around and broke the promises they’d made to God. I ask you, are we any better than they? Do we do what we should do so far as God is concerned? For the greater most part … No!
The older I get the more I seem to think and dwell on the fact that the redeemed of the Lord are commanded to give thanks and praises to Almighty God for his goodness and wonderful works to the children of men (Psalms 107:1-2, 8, 15, 21 and 31). Recently, I found myself having multiple, manifold thoughts about the whole concept of death and dying, and thoughts about some of the people who expired during just the past couple of months. I mean the likes of “JoePa,” et al. That is, Joe Paterno, the head football coach at Penn State University, Don Cornelius of “Soul Train,” old school singer Etta James, the great legendary boxing trainer Angelo Dundee who trained Muhammad Ali, et al., attorney and judge Peter Decker, Jr., the great songstress and movie actress Whitney Houston. And then there’s Bishop Barnett Karl Thoroughgood, who went onto glory from right there in his pulpit after preaching one of his powerfully dynamic sermons at New Jerusalem COGIC in Virginia Beach, and so many others.
Now, depending upon where these people, et al. have gone to spend eternity, either to God’s heaven or to a devil’s hell; and while I’m certainly not a betting man … but if I was, I’d betcha the kitchen sink that those whose souls and spirits ended up in hell, if they could come back here for a period of time they’d be mighty glad to thank, worship, praise, and give God the glory that’s due his holy name. As for those who have transitioned from earth to glory into heaven’s Holy City New Jerusalem, they wouldn’t want to come back here to planet earth for nothing. Heaven is just too unspeakably holy and righteous, too joyous and peaceful, too glorious; no more pain and suffering there, no more worries, headaches, heartaches, problems, or troubles of any kind; no more sickness, disease, death nor dying there in God’s eternal heaven.
Yes, people are leaving here I tell you. And we’re commanded to give God thanks and praises for his goodness while we can …“Do It Now!” The Psalmist tells us that dead people cannot remember God, nor any of his goodness, nor any of his wonderful works to the children of men. Dead people cannot worship the Lord. Dead people cannot give God the praise, honour, and glory that’s due his holy and righteous name. The Psalmist also raises the question that once we’re in the grave, who then can give God thanks? Most certainly not dead folk! For when and once death claims our mortal or natural bodies, and we return to the dust of the earth from whence we came, that’s it as far as “thanking, worshipping, and praising God” goes. It’s all over at that point friends. What we haven’t already done we will not do. We’d better “Do It Now!”
Elder Gerald DeForest Tyler is an ordained minister with years of senior pastoral experience.