A couple of weeks ago, only a day after my birthday and celebrating upcoming years of my life, I came so close to the presence of death- a presence which I haven't been with for quite awhile.
My friends asked me to come to the hospital for one of our coworkers who was admitted to the ICU the night prior and was revived twice. However, when we arrived there, we were informed that visitors were not allowed inside. My friends decided instead to visit another person who also happened to be in the hospital that day- their former co-reservist. She had been battling cancer for the third time already. I am not very eloquent about cancer but this time around, one of my friends told me, that she was losing the battle...
When we entered her room, we asked if we may pray for her, with her family. And for the first time in a long time, I was next to a person who has become gravely ill, with her own body in desperate and rapid deterioration. I could not help but cry as we were praying for her and as I touched her foot, feeling nervous for her fragile body. Although my mind kept on playing stories about Jesus' ministry to the sick in the Bible, I honestly was not sure of what to pray for. Should I pray for healing? Or another chance at life on earth? At the time, all I was really sure of was for God to grant comfort to her family in this time of aching grief and that she may receive the gift of eternal life that continues in heaven... A couple of days later, she passed away...
The talk of death can bring silence to a room and fear to the heart. But if anything is certain, all of us have to "make that journey." Yet, in this life, we also have to make that decision: to live and die in Christ or to not have lived at all, yet die after all.
Nothing in this world can offer what Christ had offered on the cross. We can not call on our wealth nor our achievements when we are at death's door. Even our own bodies become stark contrasts to the health and vigor of our youth, merely becoming shells that betray us in the end.
Oh! But we can call on Jesus! As Charles Spurgeon writes:
Trouble does not necessarily bring consolation with it to the believer, but the presence of the Son of God in the fiery furnace with him fills his heart with joy. He is sick and suffering, but Jesus visits him and makes his bed for him. He is dying, and the cold chilly waters of Jordan are gathering about him up to the neck, but Jesus puts His arms around him, and cries, "Fear not, beloved..." As the departing saint wades through the stream, and the billows gather around him, and heart and flesh fail him, the same voice sounds in his ears, "Fear not; I am with thee; be not dismayed; I am thy God." As he nears the borders of the infinite unknown, and is almost affrighted to enter the realm of shade, Jesus says, "Fear not, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom..." Truly, the presence of Jesus is all the heaven we desire. He is at once, "The glory of our brightest days; the comfort of our nights."*God gave us the promise of victory in Christ Jesus. Death is no longer a fearful thing because through His death, we are promised life- that even our once frail bodies will become new in His Spirit!
"O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" (1 Corinthians 15:55)
Dear Mrs. D.,
I pray that you've found your wholeness and rest in Jesus Christ, and I hope to see you in heaven someday...
*Spurgeon, Charles. Morning and Evening Daily Readings. Logos iPhone app.
Scripture taken from the New Living Translation (NLT) from biblegateway.com.