Over the past 10 days or so, I have come face to face with the reality that good people die every single day. In fact, the latest statistics confirm that about 7,000 people die every single day in the United states and well over a quarter of a million, worldwide,
Of course, these are only statistics until they become a reality for someone that you know and in particular, when someone that you care about passes away.
In the past 10 days a close friend in the Lord lost his elderly mother, my daughter and her family lost their next door neighbor and a classmate of mine from college died just 2 days ago.
When a person lives a long life, the reality of their final breath is no less sorrowful, but it’s much easier to accept as part of the actuality of the limitations of their body.
In the case of my daughter’s neighbor, she was only in her mid 50’s and, up until 16 months ago, full of life and seemingly looking forward to many more years with her husband and daughter as well as her extended family.
As much as there are many things about the issues that we have to confront when someone dies, there are also some incredibly important truths that we might be prompted to revisit. In one sense, though I’m never thankful for someone’s loss, I try to never fail to ask God what He would remind me to consider about the parameters of life and how I might be living in these years to bring the maximum glory to His name as I continue on my journey to life’s ultimate destination.
One of the inescapable conclusions that I’ve drawn after years of dealing with people who lose loved ones is just how adept we have become as a cullture at keeping the reality of the certainty of death out of our conversations and even our own conscious thinking. It’s not that we’re living in denial it’s simply that we are choosing to delay any meaningful investigation into what we expect will happen when this life comes to an end; let alone, how we might best prepare for that inevitability.
One thing I’ve discovered is that people who are confronted with a terminal diagnosis, as well as their loved ones, have a sudden and almost insatiable interest in the afterlife. They readily admit that they know very little about how to prepare for what most certainly will take place unless God should intervene and extend their years.
It’s also quite common that these same people, and they more often than not are very good people, tend to live under a fear of death. That’s one of the reasons why the words of Hebrews 2:14-15 are so powerful when they say that (Jesus came) “so that by His death He might destroy 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.”
One of the great joys that can take place when honest people begin to search what God has said about this life and the next is that they discover that they can have a measure of certainty about their eternal destiny. In fact, the Apostle John writes in his epistle 1 John 5:13 “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” We can know for sure that we have eternal life. We can know for sure that we will go to heaven when we die. It would seem to me that every thinking person ought to at least consider the claims of Christ and His word about such profound and otherwise unsearchable matters.
The other wonderful thing that happens when lives come to an end is that an outpouring of love often seems to accompany these otherwise sad and difficult seasons. Family members come together, stories that have been held close to the heart make their way into the conversations of friends and family members as the character and virtue of the one who has passed become the center of conversation. It’s not unusual to hear laughter break out as one friend tells another about a story which accurately reveals a quality or characteristic of that loved one which everyone knew and only now so openly affirmed.
“The facts of life” are that our lives are indeed “fleeting.” In fact, the psalmist, King David, says “You have made my days a mere hand-breath; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath.” Psalm 39:5
However, that breath for most of us can be 50 or 70 or 90 years long, which means that God has given us plenty of time to understand His plans for us and how we might best prepare for our eternal destiny when He promises that “If we have been united with Him like this in His death, we will be united with Him in His resurrection.” Romans 6:5
Think on these things, dear friends, and encourage one another with words of eternal hope!