‘O Death, where is your sting?’

We were about to celebrate my daughter’s birthday. We were walking across the street to the church building and I was serenading my daughter while carrying ice cream, party supplies, and do-dads. I was singing to the top of my lungs to her, simply because she hates for me to do that. At the time I was singing, I walked under a cherry tree and I saw a wasp out of the corner of my eye fly down out of the tree. It flew so quickly I had no time to react when the insect zoomed into my mouth and immediately stung me on the inside of my cheek. As soon as the wasp sunk it’s stinger into my cheeky flesh, I threw everything I had in my arms up in the air. I saw the ice cream, decorations, and supplies crash down in slow motion around the parking lot as I reached in and grabbed the culprit with my fingers and cast him forcefully out of my mouth. My mouth was on fire! My wife and kids witnessed my reaction to the onslaught of the wasp. They looked at me like I had lobsters coming out of my ears when in reality it was wasps coming out of my mouth! The side of my mouth that was stung began to swell and the pain increased to very intense levels. I informed them that a wasp had just stung me in my mouth and they all looked at me and then the carnage I had left all over the asphalt. It couldn’t have been a pretty sight. I drove myself to Urgent Care and walked in looking like someone had just hit me in the side of my face with a frying pan. The lady behind the check-in desk asked me what was wrong and why had I come in, glaring uneasily at my swollen cheek. I replied with a voice that sounded like a mix between Sylvester the Cat and Tweety Bird from Looney Tunes: “I duth dot tung by a wathp inthide my mouf.” When I got home, the joke was my daughter had gotten sick of my singing so she sent the wasp after me to shut me up. The truth is, though, that wasps HATE loud noises. Loud sounds irritate them and drive them crazy. So what actually happened was when I walked under the cherry tree caterwauling, the angry wasp swooped down from that tree to make me quit. And that got me to thinking. The devil is doing his thing on this earth, truly being up to no good. He is tangled up in the leaves and branches of our lives, doing his wicked work: striving against the Lord, wrecking marriages, driving away children’s hearts, corrupting thoughts, destroying relationships, leading folks into sin among other awful things. And here are the Children of God: singing to their savior, witnessing about their salvation, and shouting praise to their sustainer. That’s got to irritate the devil immensely. That singing must seem like fingernails scratching down a chalkboard to him. That witnessing he hears must create a sharp pain in his gut. And that shouting surely makes him just plumb mad. And so he wants to come sting the Children of God to make them stop those aggravating sounds. He puts hardship and death and disease and loss and persecution and difficult people in their lives to sting them and make them be quiet for fear of another sting. Friend, Easter is coming up next week and, regardless of the risk, we as believers have great reason to sing. We have a life-changing message to share. We should be shouting loud praise to our risen Savior for all He has done! My Savior is alive from the dead and He has saved me by His life, death, and resurrection! I was a lost sinner, graveyard dead in my trespasses. But the light of Jesus’ love, holiness, and sacrifice brightly flooded the depth of my corrupted soul and transformed me from the inside out! On that Good Friday when Jesus was hanging from the cross, covered in His holy blood and our horrible sins, He was suffering so I could be saved! He was hurting so I could be helped! He was agonizing so I could be accepted! He was dying so I could be delivered! Hallelujah! Life is hard for all of us at times. We go through seasons of great suffering and terrible hardship. We deal with disastrous circumstances and awful setbacks. Disease and death are a part of life. And the enemy can use these things to make us cower in the corner, spooked out of minds and unwilling to even whimper a praise to God because we are fearful of what else might come our way. But let me tell you, whatever that sorry devil tries to use to hush you up, he can’t take away heaven from you. If you are a child of God, heaven is your final destination by the grace of God. He can’t snatch that away. When I enter Heaven one day, I won’t have to listen to his taunts and tirades nor his accusations or assaults any more. He can’t reach me there. The cross and resurrection made sure of that! Isn’t that a reason to sing, share and shout?

I urge you to celebrate Easter like never before. Jesus is alive and risen from the dead! He has defeated sin, death, and hell! Sing to the highest rafters in your sanctuaries! Share this Good News with someone who doesn’t know the great Savior we do! Shout out about the grace of God in your life and the glory of God you will one day see with your own eyes! Let the devil hear about his upcoming defeat loud and clear. Let the Redeemed say so! “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:55 NKJV). Scott Mccullar is pastor of First Baptist Church Carbon Hill, where the church’s annual Good Friday services will be at 9a.m., noon, 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.. The church’s website is www.fbccarbonhill.com, and McCullar can be reached at (205)924-4145 or rscottmcc@att.net.