Anyone who knows me knows I am a self – described movie buff. Forrest Gump, starring Tom Hanks, is on my list of top ten best movies of all time. I have seen it at least twenty times and I can quote nearly every word of it. I’ve even been told I do a decent voice impression of Forrest. When his beloved Jenny passes away from cancer, Forrest recalls, “Momma always said dyin’ was a part of life. I sure wish it wasn’t.” Can’t we all relate to that? Yet, death comes. It comes to the rich and to the poor. It comes to the intelligent and the undereducated. It comes to the young and to the old. It comes to every race and every language. It comes, indiscriminately, to us all. We are destined to die.
“We must all die; we are like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God will not take away life, and he devises means so that the banished one will not remain an outcast.” – 2 Samuel 14:14 ESV
“For he sees that even the wise die; the fool and the stupid alike must perish and leave their wealth to others.” – Psalms 49:10 ESV
California, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington D.C. have enacted “Right To Die” laws legalizing human euthanasia. These States, in other words, allow terminally ill patients to seek physician assisted suicide to end their lives rather than allowing their illness to take its natural course. Many welcome such laws as humane and morally right, arguing people deserve to decide for themselves whether or not they wish to endure the pain and suffering associated with many terminal illnesses. Our entire country, in fact, allows for patients to fill out a DNR, or a “Do Not Resuscitate” Order to ensure doctors will not attempt to revive a person who has been deemed dead by a medical professional. It does make sense. No one wants to die, but we know we must so, we try to control circumstances determined to make it more comfortable.
“Since his days are determined, and the number of his months is with you, and you have appointed his limits that he cannot pass,” – Job 14:5 ESV
“See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.” – Deuteronomy 32:39 ESV
Modern medicine has given us many methods to ease pain and suffering, and I believe it is Scripturally sound to utilize them, particularly for the terminally ill. However, in seeking a dignified death, the Christian should keep in mind that, even in suffering, God has a plan and a purpose. We should not lose hope in suffering, but gain it. Furthermore, it is not always something we did wrong or Satan attacking us that leads to sickness. These can both occur and do have a Biblical foundation; however, sometimes, God allows us to become ill so that His glory can be shown in us.
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:1-5 ESV
“And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” – John 9:2-3 ESV
Finally, when death occurs, life is not done. It is of utmost importance that those left to grieve remember that death, while appearing final, is not really so. Jesus Christ rose again to conquer death and will one day use His authority over it to permanently end it. The Lord is the Alpha and Omega. The First and The Last. The Beginning and The End.
“Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.” – Revelation 20:14 ESV
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” – Revelation 22:13 ESV
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 ESV