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Welcome to Doctor's Life Support, daily Bible readings for busy doctors...

28th August 2015: Death and Dying

I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God; whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not as a stranger. Jo

The Bible is realistic! Nowhere does it say that we should not face dying. Dying can be a distressing and painful process. It would be irresponsible for us to say we could lightly leave those who are dependent on us. Our Lord wept at a tomb, and he offered prayers and supplications 'with loud cries and tear' before his own death (Heb 5:7). Perhaps, however, the way will not be as fearful or as lonely as we might think, because he who went through it in utter loneliness has promised to come again and receive us unto himself (Jn 14:3).

However, Christ certainly does save us from the fear of death -- that is, the fear of being dead (Heb 2:14-18). After the pain, after the parting, we shall be with Christ, which is far better (Phil 1:23). Job, in his suffering, looked forward to the time when 'I shall see him, and not as a stranger' (Job 19:27).

If life belong I will be glad, that I may long obey;
If short, why should I be sad to welcome endless day.

Richard Baxter

One of the most poignant contrasts I have seen is that between a dying Christian, and the end of a man who has rejected Christ. For the one, horizons open up, one whom he has come to know waits to greet him 'and not as a stranger'; for the other, horizons close in, the 'great unknown' approaches, and the time that remains is filled with petty distractions.

Our Lord told Peter that in his dying he would 'glorify God' (Jn 21:19). And what an encouragement Peter's confidence and joy, as he approached his 'exodus' (2 Pet 13:15), must have been to the early church. We shall have that same opportunity one day, to 'Glorify God' in the way we face death. But now, by our attitude to death, and by the way we speak to patients close to death, let us seek to glorify God. And let us, day by day, situation by situation, seek to get to know him; so that when we go to be with him, we shall see him... but not as a stranger!

In the valley of the shadow of death you will be with me, Lord.
But sensitise me now to your presence,
so that you will be no stranger to me when we meet.

Further reading: Heb 2:14-18. Rom 8:35-39.

PCE