Philippians 1:6b (NKJV)
He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ
In the movie City Slickers, Curly (Jack Palance) was an ornery old cowboy. When Billy Crystal asked him whether he had killed anybody today, Curly replied "Nope" and then paused for a moment and continued "day ain't over yet." That was a great movie line. Well silly as it is, you get the point, God's not finished with me yet, but when He looks at me, He sees the finished product.
I must admit, I'd like to see more of the finished product myself, but I'll have to wait to get to heaven for that. Paul was a lot further down the line than I suppose I'll ever be in this world. He had an interesting perspective on death and was ready and wanting to go whenever his work was finished here on this earth.
Philippians 1:21-25 (NKJV)
For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.
As an adjunct to this idea of death being gain for the Christian, a verse in Isaiah I read yesterday gave an interesting glimpse into why some might suffer and die in what we would call a premature death. (You have to read it in the NIV to get my point.)
Isaiah 57:1-2 (NIV)
The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.
That is a comforting thought, to know that what we might think is a meaningless death, is actually a loving God protecting them from some impending evil. And the eternal reward comes sooner than expected too.