Good Friday and the Mortality Rate

Since the invasion of Covid-19 there has been a lot of data being analyzed by a lot of smart people. I am not necessarily one of those smart people, but I do look at the data. The WHO posts updates about the number of cases, those who have recovered, and those who have died. Based on today’s numbers, the USA has around a 3.5% mortality rate.

Let us acknowledge that if the rate were to stay at 3.5%, there would be a lot of relief (there was widespread concern that the US would mirror Italy’s mortality rate of over 10%). But we are imperfect people working with imperfect data, and the reality is that the true mortality rate is probably far lower than this since we can only go by reported cases. Since the majority of people who get Covid-19 will have mild to moderate symptoms, it is safe to say that the majority of cases will go unreported (barring some sort of mandated testing down the road). When this is all said and done with, the “real” mortality rate will be much lower because of those who don’t report their case or aren’t tested.

This is not to minimize the potential danger of Covid-19. It’s actually a setup to talk about a much worse situation that we, as a modern nation, largely ignore. According to my research, 100% of people die. And it’s not just our generation. It appears that every previous generation has also experienced mortality rates of 100%. Looking back in history, more people have died than have not. The living are a minority. Covid-19 will not kill all of us, but all will die.

This modern habit of refusing to acknowledge the inevitability of death hit me many years ago when I was officiating the funeral of a friend. There were teenagers who had never been to a funeral before and couldn’t bring themselves to attend his. Death had always been hidden away in hospitals and funeral homes. They had never lived with death. They had never sat in vigil over the body of a departed loved one. They had never nursed a grandparent into the afterlife. They had never prepared a body for burial. They had always hid death away.

We hide from death because it is unpleasant. Most people die in pain – sick and diseased. I would like to die with my sword in hand or peacefully in the night, but the likelihood of either is small (I should probably invest in a sword to increase those odds!)

We hide from death because it makes a mockery of our pride. We all want our lives to mean something. And then death comes, and who knows if we will leave what we have amassed to a fool? Death comes and laughs at our accomplishments and our trophies. We invested in gold, and death shows us that it was only fool’s gold.

We hide from death because we do not want to face our sin. “For the wages of sin is death.” Eternity is in our hearts, but death is in our cells. Death is the evidence of man’s fallen nature, and we shy away from it because we know that after death comes the judgment.

But Jesus did not hide from death. He did not hide from the pain or agony that his death would entail. He did not hide from the humiliation he would endure. He did not hide from the wrath of God being poured out upon him because of the sins of the world. Jesus tasted all the misery that death has to offer.

Easter is a celebration of Christ’s power over death. Death first, then resurrection. Jesus’ death was unlike any other. He died like no other because He was the only one who did not have to die. He died like no other because he had no regrets, no sins to pay for, no excuses to make. He died like no other because in his death was the taste of all deaths, from the blood of righteous Abel to the last enemy at the final conflict between good and evil. He has already tasted death on my behalf.

And because He died, I can live.

Covid-19 has faced us with the fragility of our food supply, of our medical resources, and of our very existence. There is great value in contemplating death. There is even greater value in contemplating Christ’s death.

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Isaac Watts

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