Monday, March 17, 2008

Facing Death

FACING DEATH

 

One of the most difficult trials each of us will face is the death

of a loved one. It is hard to keep things in perspective when death

strikes so close to home, isn’t it?

 

Modern man strives frantically to prolong life and overcome

death’s power. Physicians use extraordinary measures to keep the

sick and dying alive just a little longer through wonder drugs,

organ transplants, and sophisticated machinery. That was certainly

the case when my nephew, Kenneth, was dying of AIDS several years

ago.

 

 But death continues harvesting its fruit without prejudice toward

age, race, social level, or education. Death continues to be cynical,

cruel, and real. No one escapes its cold fingers. Our appointment

is sure. Neither money, fame, nor intelligence exempt us from death;

everyone succumbs.

 

How should we respond as believers when a dearly loved Christian

relative or friend dies?

 

Shortly before my father died he suddenly sat up in bed and sang

a chorus about heaven. Then he fell back on his pillow and said,

“I’m going to be with Jesus, which is far better.”

 

My father had committed his life to Jesus Christ nine years earlier

and was confident he would spend eternity with the Lord. He was

thirty-six years old when he went to glory; I was only ten at

the time.

 

He died just hours before I returned home from a term at boarding

school. I had no way of knowing what had happened as I stepped off

the train that day and ran home. But as I neared my house I could

hear weeping.

 

My relatives tried to intercept me as I ran through the gate and up

to the house; I brushed past them and was in the door before my mother

even knew I was back. Tears filled my eyes when I saw my father’s

expired body lying in front of me.

 

I felt devastated by my father’s death. My world seemed shattered

and confused.

 

I was angry at everything and everybody. It isn’t fair, I thought.

Why couldn’t my dad die in old age like other dads?

 

A missionary delivered the message before my father’s burial the

next morning. It was only then I felt complete assurance that my

father was in heaven.

 

Oh, I still missed my dad terribly. I still felt the pangs of grief.

But I rested in the hope that one day, when my pilgrimage is over,

I will see him again.

 

Grief is a normal part of facing the death of a loved one. We do

grieve at the death of other believers, but not as those who have no

hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

 

Jesus gives us these words of comfort: “Do not let your hearts be

troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are

many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going

there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place

for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also

may be where I am” (John 14:1-3). That is our blessed hope

as believers!

 

Yes, the grieving process is absolutely normal for our emotional

and physical well-being. But as Christians we do not have to be

swallowed up in that grief, or allow anger or bitterness to take

root in our hearts.

 

We can face death with hope, realizing it is not the end. Death

is merely earth’s door to heaven.

To Ponder

 

Has anyone close to you died? Who? Did he or she know the Lord?

When did he or she die, and how did you respond?

To Pursue

 

If you are still grieving for a loved one who has died, take a few

minutes to tell the Lord about your grief and reaffirm your trust

in Him.

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