A euphemism is “a polite expression used in place of words or phrases that otherwise might be considered harsh or unpleasant to hear.” Instead of saying, “We ended our dog’s life,” we say, “We put our dog to sleep.”

In the Bible, sleep is a euphemism for physical death (Mark 5:39). When His friend died, Jesus said, “Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up” (John 11:11). Jesus wasn’t trying to cushion the harsh reality of the cessation of life. He was speaking of a new spiritual reality.

It’s been ingrained in me as a Chinese man that it’s not good to talk about death. But Jesus has made it possible for the believer in Jesus to think of it in terms of “sleep.” When told that Lazarus was asleep, the disciples thought it was a good thing. To rest is natural and normal, which is why no one calls the paramedics when you take a nap. The whole point of sleeping is that you wake up rejuvenated (John 11:12). Death for the believer is like lying down to a good long nap. You may sleep a long time, but you’ll wake up.

Jesus promised the grieving Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die” (John 11:25-26). Note that Jesus didn’t say, “I bring resurrection and life” but rather “ I am the resurrection and the life.” The answer to death is Jesus Himself. He’s the answer to death and the grave! (Revelation 1:18).

Death is something we despise for what it does—taking those we love, causing pain and grief. But because of Jesus and the promise of the resurrection, we can view it as more of a deep sleep. In Jesus, death has died! (2 Timothy 1:10).

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Joshua 2:1-24