Death Where is Your Sting?
This last Monday I went to a BSF Bible study. BSF stands for Bible Study Fellowship. We were in a group of men that discuss the previous week’s lesson. At the end of our discussion one of the members said, “My friend who has been coming here with me each week has died.” The group was stunned. The man seemed to be in good health. It was very sudden.
This incident reminded me of one of the chapters from my book, Signs of Hope: Ways to Survive in an Unfriendly World. This is chapter 6.
I hope that you will find some comfort from this post:
Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
1 Corinthians 15:55–56
As believers, we have the comfort of knowing we have eternal life. According to Romans 5:12, death comes to all of us. We have to go through the process that all living things must go through. However, we can be reassured that we will have new bodies, and be in heaven with God.
It is also hard to lose loved ones and friends. God doesn’t explain to us why He takes some people earlier than others. It is not for us to decide who should stay. God chooses and we should thank Him for each day we have with our loved ones.
In May of 2001 my father was on his deathbed, dying from a stroke. On this day, I had a close encounter with God. I wanted to make sure that he was right with the Lord. I decided that I was going to talk to him when I was with him at the hospital. I went out into the hall to gather myself and pray.
I looked to my right. Coming down the hall was the pastor from the church I had been attending. He was coming to visit another member of the church. I stopped him and said I needed him to come in and talk to my father. The pastor did come in and talk to my father, and we were sure then that he had the Lord in his heart. I was overjoyed that the Lord had sent the pastor just at the time I was getting up the courage to talk to my father.
He just happened to be coming to the hospital? He just happened to be on the right floor? He just happened to be in the right wing, and he just happened to be coming down the hall when I went out into the hall? I don’t think so!! God sent my pastor on a mission to talk to my father that morning. My father died two days later.
It is all right to grieve for your loved ones and friends, but if you know they are Christians, you have tremendous comfort. You know you will see them again some day.
If they are not a Christian, take time to share with them the love of God. You could also have the hospital chaplain talk to them, or have your church’s pastor talk to them. You may even go out into the hall, and have a pastor coming toward you to talk to them!
I also have had the privilege of having many friends that were very dear to me. They each made an impact in my life. In just the last few years, I’ve had to say good-bye to several of them. Physical death took them from us, but spiritually they live on. I am only sharing this to let you know that I will be able to see each of them when it is my turn to walk the walk.
Arlene Corn was probably the best Detroit Tiger fan in the whole world. She lived in our cul-de-sac. She also was also a wonderful Christian. When she went to be with the Lord we all sang “Take Me out to the Ball Game” at her packed memorial service. There was not a dry eye at the service. She was an instant friend in the neighborhood. You felt you knew her from day one. Cancer took her from us.
My neighbor, who lived across the street, was one of the toughest women I have ever met. She called a spade a spade, and wouldn’t hesitate to let you know if you needed to be corrected. When someone mentioned that a friend had “passed away,” she scolded, “They didn’t pass away; they died!” She did pass away, and she will be greatly missed by all of her neighbors. She loved dogs, and the neighborhood dogs seemed to have known it. They lined up at her home for treats. Cancer took her from us.
A teacher friend of mine was a single parent of two sons that she loved very much. She also loved teaching kindergarten children, and they loved her. My wife and I took her for many of her chemotherapy sessions because her sons needed to be in school. She wanted to look special for everyone, so she wore a wig and made sure she was dressed well for her doctor visits. She remained positive to the very end. She passed away in her sleep. Cancer took her from us.
Another friend of ours was very tough woman. She could bite the head off a pit bull, but she was a person who spread her love as far as she could reach. She loved the “boys” who came to visit her. They were high school kids who needed someone to talk to. She had them over almost every night. They would sit around and talk to her and her husband. It was a place for them to unload.
She unloaded on my wife and her husband one time at a doctor’s appointment they had gone to with her. They started to break down at something the doctor said. “Quit being wimps!” she scolded. She didn’t want anyone feeling sorry for her. At her memorial service no one was allowed to say anything sad about her. Cancer took her from us.
Another teacher friend was a very proud woman. She refused to dwell on her illness. She always felt she was going to beat cancer. She was a woman that fought for the right to have an assisted suicide in Oregon, the first state to allow it. She felt that we all should be able to die with dignity. She even spoke before Congress on the issue. She passed away before she was able to have assistance. Cancer took her from us.
Howard Girod and I met about six years ago when we moved next door to him and his wife. He was the kind of person you were not sure you would be friends with. He once jokingly called me the village idiot. But as I got to know him, I found out that he was the most loving man I had met in a long time.
I almost fell off a ladder he was holding for me, and he scolded me like I was his son. “Be careful!” he shouted. Another time just before his death, when he was very weak, he whispered to me from his hospital bed, “If I could start over again … I wouldn’t!”
His favorite line at the end was, “God bless you.” That meant so much to me, especially since he had once called me the village idiot. Howard was a strong Christian who said a strong word once in awhile, but his love for you made you know that he was going to have a seat close to God when he passed. Leukemia took him from us.
God took all these people the same way. They all died from some form of cancer, except my father who died from a stroke. There is not an answer why they had to leave us so soon, but God has His reasons. I thank Him for sharing these people with me for the time we had together. A father or a friend is a precious person that you should cherish each day you have them. You never know when they will not be with you anymore.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me.
I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.
You never know when your signs of hope will be. I have had many that I know of, but I probably had many more I didn’t know about. Try to keep track of when you have signs of hope and let me know about them by sending your story to me.
S0mething to ponder
Isn’t it funny that our children can’t read the Bible in school, but they can in prison?
(This is an excerpt from: Signs of Hope: Ways to Survive in an Unfriendly World) Chapter 6