A Matter of Life and Death
One of the more difficult but also rewarding responsibilities in ministry is
providing comfort to those whose journey in this world is coming to an end. It is a time of
deep sadness but also great joy for the person who has lived a life in Christ.
Last weekend, I visited a member from my previous church at East Greenville.
Her daughter called me a few days earlier and said quite simply, “Mom’s dying.”
I was stunned to hear the news. Although the woman was in her eighties, she
had been a very active and vibrant member of the congregation.
When I arrived at her home, it was difficult to determine how aware she was of
my presence or what was happening around her, but we took time to pray and to offer
words of encouragement as we anointed her forehead with oil.
I was honored and blessed to be with her in her final days. After all, no one wants
to die alone, but I realized that she was not at all alone. The Lord was with her to
comfort her and bring her safely back home to her eternal reward.
The experience left me with a range of emotions, and a few questions — “Why
does dying have to be so difficult.” In fact, “Why do we have to die at all?
Scripture addresses the subject of death in several passages, including this from
the 12 th chapter of the Gospel of John, which we read at our worship service last
“The time has come for the Human One to be glorified. I assure you
that unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it can only be a
single seed. But if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their lives will
lose them, and those who hate their lives in this world will keep them
forever. Whoever serves me must follow me. Wherever I am, there my
servant will also be. My Father will honor whoever serves me.”
So, according to God’s plan for all of us, there must be an earthly death before
there can be an eternal life. We know that, although the prospect is often unsettling and
process often grueling. Perhaps we should consider what happens before that. How
many seeds can we sow and how much fruit will they bear in honor of the Lord during
and even after our life on earth? That’s the real question.
If we are to serve Him, we must follow Him. He then promises to be with us so
that when the process of death is complete, the restoration and resurrection will take
place as it did for Jesus on that glorious Easter morning more than 2,000 years ago.
Let us take comfort in the fact that Jesus paved the way for us so that death in
this world would lead to life in the world to come. This should give us hope and joy as
we prepare for ourselves and others for life everlasting.
Until we meet again, Be Blessed! – Pastor John