Philippians 1:21 “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
“John showed me the right way to die.” That was the sentiment one of my friends expressed upon the death of a dear brother in our church….
John’s battle with cancer lasted only a few months, ending far too soon for his 45 years. But interestingly, as John’s fight intensified, his faith grew stronger. Every time the doctor came with new bad news, John immediately assured his wife, Kitty, “Don’t worry, God’s got this.” He shared the love of Jesus with anyone who cared to listen. In spite of ongoing pain and revolving door stays between the hospital and home, he managed to be an encouragement to everyone who came to visit. Even to the end.
The day before John died, he moved to a Hospice facility. That evening a few people from our church gathered around his bed to pray and sing hymns. By this time John’s breathing was so labored he could hardly catch his breath, even with the oxygen mask. He could barely speak, but after every song he managed to give a two thumbs up in a show of resounding approval. After they finished, he tried to say something but no one could quite make out his words. So in one valiant attempt to communicate, he ripped off his mask and with every ounce of remaining strength he shouted, “Hallelujah!” It served as a final testimony— although John’s body was dying, his faith pulsated with life. No fear. No sting. Just victory. God’s got this.
Maybe you’re like me. Maybe in the past few months you’ve faced some challenging situations. Questions have gone unanswered. You’ve not known what to do with a world that seems to be imploding, with a country being turned on its head. Maybe you, too, have had to say premature goodbyes. Maybe your health or finances or faith has been depleted. Maybe you’ve had to choose: give in to worry or trust God.
I can’t tell you how many times John’s brave words have echoed in my mind. God grants us dying grace as well as living grace. He remains with us in the valley of the shadow of death but also in the trenches of everyday living. I don’t want to forget that. I don’t want to forget my brother’s words…God’s got this.