"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones." (Psa. 116:15).
"But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope." (1 Thess. 4:13).
Christian men and women burned at the stake, whole families devoured by lions, preachers roasted in ovens, babies thrown from cliffs, others sewn in skins and thrown to wild dogs -- each death precious in the sight of God. How can that be a treasure?
Something of value doesn't necessarily translate into something of beauty. Death is an enemy, the ultimate sinful end to every argument, the agenda for every demon in hell. It has no equal. More than simply the lack of life, what any inanimate object possesses, death has a sting, a vivid realization of the void of the life once possessed.
So what does God see that makes death precious? First, it's precious as a milestone. It's the end of faithful service and the beginning of reward -- the putting aside of a sickle and the putting on of a crown. The process of conformity to Christ in this life must give way to perfection -- the end game of redemption, meeting the Savior face to face for the first time -- the ultimate homecoming.
Second, it's precious as a testimony. Dying, especially as a martyr, tells the world what is the ultimate treasure. It's a non-repeatable performance that is the high watermark of love, the laying down of the one gift God gives us that enables all other gifts to function in this earthly body. It testifies to death's lack of sting, to Christ's worthiness, inviting others to die with similar vigor.
Lastly, it's precious as an identification. No Christian dies his own death, like the lost. Everything he possesses -- even death -- comes through the cross. His death is simply a sharing in what Christ experienced. He can't die on his own. If every hair on his head is numbered and indestructible, then the removing of that head is under divine apportionment as well. Every evaporation of this vaporous life is a gift from Christ's own hand for the Christian to identify with.
If your life is not your own, neither is your death. God doesn't leave your death up to you to try and make it precious in His sight. It already is. It's predestined to be, and that's a sleep we can endure, a grief we can bear.