death and dying
There is only one thing about which we can be absolutely certain, and that is our own mortality.
We will not all necessarily live to a ripe old age, although many more people do than was the case fifty or so years ago, thanks to advances in medicine and, for many, improvements in diet and life style. Nowadays, the definition of where youth ends and old age begins is much more nuanced. It has partly to do with attitude to life, and to dying.
So, whatever age you are, if you have recently been diagnosed with a terminal illness, you will feel shock and perhaps a degree of anger. But the fact is, our lives could end at any time – through accidents, sudden illness, or even violence at the hands of others. In Christ, we are always living in the knowledge, but not the fear, of dying.
For someone who has Christ in their life, knowing that death is coming in the relatively near future faces that person with something they have perhaps always known but never chosen to engage with. This ‘something’ is not only the inevitability of death itself, but the reality of the presence of Jesus who is with them in the moment they are told of their condition and thereafter, up to, and into, eternity.
Knowing this makes it easier to begin the process of surrendering. Dying, and the ultimate moment of death, is entirely about surrender, the surrender of everything we are, everything we have been and all that we know. Death is only really frightening when this surrender takes place in uncertainty and in loneliness. Neither of these conditions are what God wants for us. He wants us to know that we are held not just by him, but in him, in his love which is as limitless and as unfathomed as eternity itself.
So, if you are facing death either for the first time, or after a painful and protracted illness try, for a minute or two, to resist the temptation to be angry or in denial. Try, instead, to connect with the knowledge that it is precisely in our dying that Christ is closest to us.