How can we face death with dignity?
Facing the Inevitable
In our society we don’t like to talk much about death. After all, our world is geared towards entertainment and having fun. Still, every day thousands of people have no choice but to face the inevitable, and many do so filled with fear, which is a common factor among humans wandering on this planet. Some are more than fearful. They are terrified.
Believers aren’t immune to this either. A pastor from the other side of North America was such an encouragement to my wife when she faced cancer last year. They both had two things in common: my wife’s best friend was his daughter and they both had cancer. He was a breath of fresh air to my wife, even though he faced the same deadly disease.
The outcome wasn’t the same though. My wife was healed, but this faithful, devoted pastor faced death, and at one point, he had to admit that he was afraid. How would any of us react when we realize that our organs are slowly shutting down?
My mother-in-law also concurred that she was afraid when she was recently admitted in a local hospital. But not about death itself. She was afraid about the process of dying, which she would rather skip. This is where we, as believers, differ from others. We anticipate going to our Heavenly home, but we are aware of our frailties when going through the process of suffering. Death is not was fazes us. It is the suffering that we really don’t prefer.
However, we, who are followers of the Most High, have nothing to fear, for we know where we are going. Yes, the process may not be quite that enjoyable, but we don’t have to face this alone!
Jesus went way out of His way to make certain of this. Born in a manger, He was destined to die the goriest death possible: death by asphyxiation. Still, even though He knew about this in advance, He was unfazed by it. Instead He concentrated on His ministry of love towards humanity. However even Jesus faced fear. Just moments before his eventual arrest, it is written that: “. . . Being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22:44, NIV2)
Jesus truly can identify with what we are going through. Notice that even though His own disciples weren’t much of an encouragement, as they were asleep while Jesus was facing this terror, He was encouraged from heaven above! “An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.” (Luke 22:43, NIV2) What humans were unable to do, God did!
Jesus allowed Himself to die on a lonely cross, with the only purpose being to defeat death and to open the door to immortality. Being pure, He rose on the third day, as prophesied in the Old Testament, and confirmed that “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” (1 Corinthians 15:54b)
Now we can firmly stand facing death and ask ourselves “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55, NIV2)
Thanks to Jesus, the fear of death is broken: “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death-that is, the devil-and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” (Hebrews 2:14-15, NIV2). He stands by us, identifying with us, encouraging us that we have truly nothing to fear. We are not alone in this! He stands by our side! We are going home!
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalms 23:4, KJV)
Someone wrote to me recently and shared the following with me: “Thank you so much for your prayers for my dad. Today morning at 10:30 AM he left us to be with the Lord for ever.
I am glad that he is now with the Lord and what died is not him but his old age, his pain, his sickness and his suffering. All of this died but my dad is living with our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ in the Kingdom of heaven.
I had the privilege of telling him about the Lord and His Kingdom and encouraged him to think about heaven before he passed off into eternity. I also prayed with him and as he was gasping in the last stages, he held my hand and slept off peacefully to open his eyes in front of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I am at peace with this assurance that I will certainly see him one day with the Lord and will be united with him again to enter that land of peace and praise.”
Only Jesus can give us that inner peace and remove the fear that haunts us. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV)
We, as Christians, have a task as well. It’s our mission to encourage those who need someone to stand by them: “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:13, NIV2)
It’s easy to become discouraged, but as long as we focus on the Christ, the One who was victorious over death, fear will evaporate into nothingness. After all, Jesus is our peace: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NIV2)
Jesus did indeed “overcome the world”, and we can too, with His help.
I am assured that I will be able to meet this pastor who was an inspiration to my wife. What a great reunion this will be when we gather at the banquet hall of the Most High Himself.
Are you an encourager? If not yet, you still can become one. Make a difference and let God transform you into a bright shining star.
Death is not the end, it is just the beginning. Just like a child in its mother’s womb, when his time comes, that child gets to meet his mother in person. In the same way, we will meet our Heavenly Father in person as well! Wow!