Dealing with Death

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You Won!

Imagine your exhilarating surprise and eager anticipation if you received a phone call announcing that you just won the house of your dreams in your favorite place in the world. Whether you were told the moving date would be in three weeks, six months, or a year, you’d spend the upcoming days packing and planning and getting ready for the big event until all was in order. What joy would fill your days! What happiness would bubble over into conversations as you get ready to say good-bye to your family and friends. And of course you’d invite them to come and stay with you. Imagine! You won!

Now imagine the feelings you’d have if you received a phone call announcing that the tests reveal you have cancer with just three months to live.

It’s a rather shocking comparison, isn’t it?

But why? As Christians, we know that since before time began, God has already appointed the day of our birth and the day of our death. There is no accident with God. He knows the beginning from the end and all of time is in His hands.

As Christians, we also know that heaven is the place we will go to spend eternity in the very presence of God, Himself! Heaven is the most awesome place in the world! For the past 2,000 years, Jesus Himself has been building each of us a glorious mansion!

Over the years, I have witnessed a number of Christians who have received news from the doctor that their days on earth are coming to an end. I, too, have had times when I’ve stared eternity in the face.

And on the whole, these experiences have been filled with fear, panic, and overwhelming grief. The thought of dying and leaving loved ones behind is so heartbreaking it leaves us spinning in numbness.

And yet I wonder…

I wonder what our reaction to news of the end of our life here as we know it on earth would be like if we viewed it as the first option: an announcement that we just won the house of our dreams in our favorite place in the world.

I’m not talking about refusing medical treatment or chemo or giving up our will to live. The Bible tells us in Isaiah 38:1-4 that “Hezekiah was sick and near death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, went to him and said to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.”’ Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the Lord and said, ‘Remember now, O Lord, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what is good in Your sight.’ And Hezekiah wept bitterly. And the word of the Lord came to Isaiah, saying, ‘Go and tell Hezekiah, “Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: ‘I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will add to your days fifteen years.’” (NKJV)

Even Jesus wept in the Garden of Gethsemene when He knew it was His time to die on the cross and leave his beloved disciples behind. Jesus asked God to remove the cup from Him, but that God’s will be done.

No, I’m not talking about giving up on prayer or refusing to seek out a possible treatment or cure. I’m talking about the time that comes when an illness reaches the final stage and death is imminent. This is the point where hospice often steps in and end-of-life decisions are being made.

I have never yet had to face this time. I don’t know how I’ll react. How can we know what we’ll think or do or say until we’ve actually experienced this?

But by far the main example I’ve seen among non-Christians and Christians alike is one of defeat and depression and great sorrow. Phrases abound such as “She lost the battle to cancer” or “Why did it have to happen to a good person like him?”

Yes, I know there will always be sorrow at a time like this, especially regarding the loved ones who are left behind. But I wonder…could there be something better? Could there be something we’re missing, specifically because we’re Christians?

As Christians, heaven is our destiny. It’s our hope. It’s our promise. It’s our reality.

And heaven is amazing. Really really amazing. Our brains can’t even begin to comprehend how amazingly awesome it is!

And God is worthy of our trust. Psalm 33:4 reminds us, “For the word of the Lord holds true, and we can trust everything he does,” (NLT). God’s love for us is so huge that we can’t grasp the depth and height and width of it. Out of His great love for us, He wants only the best for us.

God’s best included sending Jesus to the cross to die for our sins. How could God sacrifice His own Son? Because He saw the end from the beginning. He knows the eternal goodness that came as a result of suffering and death.

God has a plan for you and me that is as big as His plan for Jesus. In fact, Jesus is at the center of God’s plan for us. He knows what is best for us and for the ones we love so dearly.

So I wonder…as each new day brings news of yet another Christian who has received distressing news from the doctor…I wonder if we could try to find joy in our own personal journey during our last days here on earth. And not just “happy” joy that ignores what’s going on, but an authentic deep joy that recognizes what’s really going on—we’ve got a ticket in our hands. We get to move to the house of our dreams in the most wonderful place in the world! And we want to invite everyone we know, especially the ones we love and cherish the most, to be sure to make plans to come and stay with us!

Now, you may have read this entire article and you may be wondering where you fit in with all this. You may not be a Christian. Or you think you’re a Christian but you’re not sure if you’ll really go to heaven. And if you’ve received your own news from the doctor, you want to know how you can find joy in your journey if you don’t have the assurance of where you’re going.

It’s simple, really. You see, Jesus died on the cross as the payment for all the sins you’ve ever done. If you accept Jesus’s work on the cross as the full payment you need and acknowledge Him as your Savior, then He promises that you can live in heaven in eternity with God. Forever! So take time right now to pray and ask Jesus to be your Savior. Thank Him for dying on the cross for your sins. Ask Him to fill you with the Holy Spirit and with joy unspeakable and peace that passes all understanding.

Then get ready! You’re not “losing the battle” with cancer. On the contrary, you won! The victory is yours! All heaven is waiting for you with open arms. When you close your eyes here with your final breath, the next instant you’ll open your eyes and be in the presence of Jesus. You’ll be surrounded by His amazing love and finally, you’ll understand everything perfectly and know God’s best for you and for those you love. It’s wonderful. It’s amazing! It’s forever!

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