Steve Jobs and My Own Death

“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” When I hear those words from Jerry Seinfeld, I almost always laugh. But then I wonder why I laugh, and realize that the reason Jerry’s joke gets a chuckle is because it is completely ridiculous. He sheds light on the faulty methods of studies that yield results so entirely opposite of most of our experiences.

Almost all of us are afraid of dying.

Shockingly and tragically, Steve Jobs has passed away. We displayed our shock and public grief  in ways so striking it recalls the days after Princess Diana’s own fateful accident. But this time we have social media. President Obama made a statement. People like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg paid their public respects. The day after his passing, the BBC reported that 35 million people in China posted tributes to Jobs online.I think Steve Jobs’ passing was so shocking to many of us because he comes closest in our modern Western world to our image of an invincible hero. He pioneered innovative technologies that changed the way almost all of us live our lives. His personal net worth numbered in the billions. If anyone could beat a tragically early death in the face of an insidious disease, surely Steve Jobs could! If financial resources or technology could make a difference in a case like his, surely they would have in his particular case. Our own smallness in the face of such a giant gives us pause in thinking about our own chances of cheating death.

Almost all of us are afraid of dying.

All of us are going to die.

This is why I find the statement of a nineteen year-old budding Jonathan Edwards so penetrating. At this early age (around 1722), Edwards decided to write down a series of resolutions to govern his life. The relevant one for this article reads like this:

9. Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.

At the age when most people (especially men) think themselves most invincible, Edwards reflects on his own certain and yet unpredictable demise. In an age when we reflect too little on death, hardly allow ourselves to talk about it, and squash our sorrow over it with polite pleasantries, Edwards’ words are particularly needed.  Even though (or maybe especially because) most of us fear death more than Lord Voldemort, we are going to die. If don’t want that fear to govern us, we have to speak the hard truth to ourselves…and reflect on it.

But more intriguing to me than Edwards’ mere reflection on the fact of his death is his reflection on its mode. At nineteen, he decides to think carefully about how his death will be common. It will, in all likelihood, happen like millions of deaths before his. He is not going to go down in a blaze of glory. Chances are he will not get the chance to give his life playing the hero. Edwards’ death, like Steve Jobs’ and  most of ours, will be–anticlimactically and unbearably–normal.

When we feel this unbearable normality of our death it would serve us well to direct our thoughts to the most unique death in human history.  Jesus Christ died a death that was anything but normal. The most abnormal, the most incredible, thing about Jesus’ death was that…

It wasn’t permanent.

Jesus’ resurrection from the grave, is not some antiquated, discard-able notion of a bygone precritical Christianity. It is at the very heart of the faith, at the very heart of my faith,  for the same reason death is at the heart of our fears. We intuitively sense that death is our final enemy. It is that last part of brokenness of this world that strips us of dignity, relationships, and, of course, life.

Jesus’ resurrection, his unusual un-death, miraculously undoes one of the fundamentals of our broken world: Death wins. Instead, the Bible says:

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive…. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he “has put everything under his feet.” (1 Corinthians 15)

As I think about my own death, and it’s presumably anticlimactic nature, I am so glad for this truth…that death is not the end for those connected to Jesus Christ.

I guess public speaking could be our number one fear after all.

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4 Responses to Steve Jobs and My Own Death

  1. Ashley Brooks says:

    Wonderful Kyle. This is something I realized when my father died. He was a man who was invincible in my eyes, and yet he died such a humbling death. We cannot be in control of our own demise, we must trust that God has it under control, and of course we can pray. Our glory does not come in our death, but in our eternal life.

  2. Brent Pollema says:

    Great post Kyle, it really makes you think and I loved the video at the end. God Bless!
    Brent Pollema

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