In J.R.R. Tolkien’s tragic fantasy The Children of Hurin, there is a scene towards the beginning where Hurin, the mighty warrior, is disputing with Morgoth–an evil power, who is a figure of Satan. Morgoth has just dealt a terrible blow to the forces of good, and has Hurin for prisoner; but still Hurin defies him. Among his words of defiance is this statement of transcendent hope:
“Beyond the Circles of the World you shall not pursue those who refuse you.” (65)
Truly, the great struggle of the soul is confined to this world, and this life. Satan’s power cannot reach beyond the gates of death. And those doors, so fearful, have been by Christ transformed. Though shadowed still by uncertainty and limned with grim finality, they mark nothing terrible for those who belong to the risen Lord Jesus Christ.
For the Christian, death is the passage to everlasting joy in the presence of the Lord, the departure to be with Christ and abide with Him until the day of resurrection, when all things are made new.
In this life there is much we might fear. But courage comes with the conviction of certain vindication. For the present, Satan has been allowed to act, even though already decisively defeated at the cross. But his power stops at the gates of death. He cannot pursue those who refuse him.