My sweet, elderly patient shared these precious words with me at the end of my shift. Over the previous two days, we enjoyed several discussions about our Savior, our faith, and the the love that binds us all together. As I looked into his eyes, I saw something beautiful and profound: Peace. That may seem a fairly common thing. But this man was different. Physically speaking, he wasn’t in a peaceful state. His body was falling apart thanks to the cancer and his old age…and it didn’t help that just as he got some relief, I had yet another bag of chemo ready for him. Emotionally speaking, he missed his wife, the comforts of home, his young daughter and energetic grandchildren. Mentally speaking, he was left alone with his thoughts day-in and day-out, in a dull, lifeless hospital room. Despite all of this, I saw peace in his eyes. Even as he talked about his impending death…
One of my last residency classes was held last week. The topic: “Bridging the Gap.” In other words, “Death and Dying.” You would think that at a cancer hospital, people would be completely comfortable with such a topic…but you would be wrong to make such an assumption. The lecturer, a Chaplain, opened her session with this question, “How many of y’all are afraid of dying?” Hands everywhere went up. Some sheepishly, some with no hesitation. But nearly every single hand was raised. Ask yourself the same question: Are you afraid of dying?
Death is such a feared process. But why? It’s a natural and inevitable part of life. It doesn’t make sense to fear something that you know will happen eventually. While we may not know the situation surrounding it, we do know that one day, we will leave this earth. From dust we came, and to dust shall we return (Ecc. 3:19-20).
For Christians, the fear of death has been obliterated by the work of our Savior. He rose from the grave, claiming victory over death! Because of Him, death no longer has a hold on us, the grave can no longer claim our souls. Because of Him we are alive forevermore! With nothing to fear and nothing to doubt!
My sweet patient understood this Truth. He knew that he had no reason to fear what was natural and inevitable. More so, He understood that Christ already suffered the pangs of death for his sake. He knew that Christ arose victorious from the grave so that he could have eternal life with the Father. You see, my patient knew the Lord would never forsake him. He knew that the Lord had a purpose for him – even as he lay there on that hospital bed, suffering from the cancer that was slowly but surely killing him. Rather than complain and worry and waste what may very well be his last few months on this earth, my patient decided to rest in the arms of his Savior. He chose to dwell in shelter of the Most High. He chose to fix his gaze upon his blessed Redeemer. And he didn’t stop there. He was determined to introduce every single person that walked into his room to the never-ending love of Jesus – even in the midst of his suffering!
What a beautiful testimony of a man who, very literally, laughed at the prospect of dying. Sorrow, regret, worry, fear – those were not the emotions written on this man’s face as we talked about his impending death. Joy, hope, peace, yearning – that is what I saw on his face. Oh, how he yearned to be with His Savior! Oh, how joy danced across his face at the very mention of Christ!
Friends, death is not something to be feared. It is the beautiful release of this world’s hold on our souls. It is the beginning of a joyous eternity spent with our precious Savior and Lover of our souls.
For those of us who are young and healthy and seemingly have “all the time in the world,” may we use our time wisely to share the joy of our Savior with others. May we proudly proclaim His name to all those around us! May His praises constantly be on our lips! And may we work diligently to spread the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the glory of His name.
For those of us who hear death knocking on the door, may we remember that Christ has conquered the grave once and for all. May we remember that we have nothing to fear because our precious Jesus has bridged the gap for us. May we follow Christ’s example and seek the Father’s will, not our own. And may we remember that the conclusion of this life propels us into a glorious eternity with Him – an eternity with no suffering, no pain, no tears; just Jesus.
As we continue along this journey we call life, let’s remember the words of my wise patient: “Sink or swim, I’ll cling to Him.” Regardless of what state we are in, whether we are drowning in His glorious blessings or drowning in heartbreaking sorrows, may we cling to Him more and more. Know this beloved, as we draw near to Him, He draws ever nearer to us.
Let my last breath here be my first with You
Where You rob my fear and You make me new
So whatever comes, whatever I go through
Let my last breath here be my first with You
Tears of Joy | Phil Wickham