My father is dying.The demise of his health is not
surprising.In the last 20 years he has
suffered a heart attack, a stroke and several bouts with cancer.Writing these words does not help me come to
grips with the fact that the man I have admired my whole life will, in the near
future, not be on the other end of the phone when I call to seek his
counsel.He will not be there to rehash
the same stories for the hundredth time.He most likely will not be around to see my daughter marry next
summer.I could continue the list of
things that won’t happen.
He's a very intelligent man. He was a farmer and rancher for over 60
years.He turned down a job at IBM in
the early 50’s because it would have taken him away from his family for 6
months.It would constantly amaze me how
he could take apart, and put back together, a tractor engine simply from
memory.He always seemed to know what
needed to be done when it came to crops, cattle, etc.He invented implements to use on the farm
that were years ahead of their time.His
occupation seemed to suit the man that he was for many years.
My dad is a Christian.There is no one I have met who knows (or
knew, in better days,) more Bible than my father.I remember when I was growing up as a kid he
never started his day without studying God’s Word.He was an elder in the Lord’s church for over
15 years and was respected by many people who would seek him out for counsel
and advice.One thing I admire most is
the fact he would not compromise his beliefs, regardless.Please do not misunderstand me.My father is not perfect.There are attributes he possesses that I
constantly fight to keep from becoming part of my character.He knows better and I believe that he tries
to do what is right.When he fails, I
know his prayer life has always been earnest.These thoughts are what help me deal with the frailty that is seen now in
Humans see death as a separation from
those we love and from earthly companions.In it we experience pain and sorrow because of that separation.However the Bible assures us of the fact that
man is more than just physical.At death
the spirit lives on.
Death is a gain for those who are
faithful.We gain release from the pain
and sorrow of this world.Ecclesiastes 7:1 tells us that the day
of one’s death is better than the day of their birth.We all understand that life here on earth can
be filled with many wonderful moments but it can also be mixed with sorrow and
pain.We understand that all sorrow and
distress ends at the death of one who is faithful.Revelation
21:4 tells us, “…he shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death
shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any
more: the first things are passed away.”We will be in the presence of God for all eternity.
In death, Christians gain a new,
incorruptible body.Paul told the Corinthians,
“For we know that if the earthly house of our tabernacle be dissolved, we have
a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens.” (2 Cor. 5:1)Death is not something to be feared.The Christian knows that death is going to
occur but that an eternity with the Lord lies beyond.Christian’s realize we have victory over
death through Jesus Christ our Lord.
This world is not and never was
intended to be our permanent home.The
Hebrew writer states, “These all died in faith, not having received the
promises, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having confessed
that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.For they that say such things make it
manifest that they are seeking after a country of their own.And if indeed they had been mindful of that
[country] from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return.But now they desire a better [country], that
is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed of them, to be called their God;
for he hath prepared for them a city.”The death of a Christian is not the end of the voyage but the beginning
of a more wonderful journey.Remember
Paul’s words to Timothy, “For I am already being offered, and the time of my
departure is come.I have fought the
good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there
is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous
judge, shall give to me at that day; and not to me only, but also to all them
that have loved his appearing.”
Death truly brings rest from all of
life bad times.We read the comforting
words of John in Revelation 14:13, “Blessed
are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, that
they may rest from their labors; for their works follow with them.”The day of death is when we enter into the
presence of holiness, awaiting the time we will be presented faultless before
the father (Jude 24).
For the righteous, Paul wrote of death
being a blessing from God.We need to
value what death means to the righteous.Death holds no terror to God’s saints.It is not a going out of existence.It is a departure for a better world and a new life.
In this life we are faced with sin,
sorrow, sickness, and pain.In death we
are released from a world filled with the things that cause sorrow to a better
world where there are no more tears, no death, no crying, mourning or pain.Anna L. Barbould wrote a poem that sums up
beautifully the thought of a Christian’s death:
How blest the
righteous when he dies!
When sinks a weary soul to rest,
How mildly beam the closing eyes,
How gently heaves th' expiring breast!
So fades a summer
So sinks the gale when storms are o'er:
So gently shuts the eye of day;
So dies the wave along the shore.
A holy quiet
A calm which life nor death destroys;
Nothing disturbs that peace profound
Which his unfettered soul enjoys.
conflicting hopes and fears,
Where lights and shades alternate dwell:
How bright th' unchanging morn appears!
Farewell, inconstant world, farewell.
Life's duty done,
as sinks the clay,
Light from its load the spirit flies,
While heaven and earth combine to say,
"How blest the righteous when he dies!"