This blog is very personal. It has to do with Scott, my wife’s cousin. He is a man in his 50’s who is dying of brain cancer. Judy and I recently visited with Scott and his wife, Kathy. We talked together about Scott’s deteriorating condition and his departure from this life. Scott and I have talked often about his journey with cancer the last couple of years. My reason for writing about Scott is to share his testimony of faith and the example he has been to me of a younger man prepared to die.
As Scott’s conditioned has worsened, he has continued to turn his gaze unto Jesus. It has been an inspiration to hear him express his trust in Jesus. The peace and rest he has in his Savior is a powerful testimony to all who know him. His concern is for his wife, three daughters and his dad. We have talked about his dying as being a gift to his loved ones. Listen to what Henri Nouwen has to say about our dying. “But we can choose to befriend our death as Jesus did……As men and women who have faced our morality, we can help our brothers and sisters to dispel the darkness of death and guide them toward the light of God’s grace.” Scott’s attitude about his own death has become a gift to his family, in the midst of their sorrow with his possibility of going to be with the Lord.
Men I write about Scott because I want to challenge you to come to peace about your own death. Do not be afraid of death or even contemplating your own death. Remember Paul’s word to us. “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?…But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Cor 15:55&57). I learned years ago from Eugene Peterson to pray for a good death. Remember you have no control over when and how you will die. So fix your eyes on the one who is “the resurrection and the life.” Paul exhorts us to “…fix our eyes not on what is seen, but when is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (II Cor 5:18)
Here are two suggestions to consider as you journey through life. First, come to peace with your own death. If you are a follower of Jesus, don’t let anyone or anything in this life, rob you of the joy of going to heaven. “The desire to break camp here and be with Christ is powerful” lamented Paul. “Some days I can think of nothing better.” (Phil 1:23). So think about heaven and the joy of being there. Don’t get to weighed down with the affairs of this world. Remember your “citizenship is in heaven.” (Phil 3:20).
Secondly, don’t be afraid to talk about death with your loved ones, especially your children. We did that during family devotions after funerals of church and family members. It helps your children to see that death is a natural part of the journey. Yes, there will be sorrow. But Jesus has promised to be with us in those times, to bring healing to our hearts. Our sorrow is not for our departed loved one, but for ourselves.