Tag Archive | Remember Death

How to Die Well

How to Die Well

We are all going to die. But that does not mean that we are all going to die well. If we are going to die well, first we must remember death (memento mori).[1]

Second, we must look to and learn from Jesus. Jesus, as the perfect Son of God, lived and died well. We’d be wise to take our cues in life and death from Him. Below are eight ways we can die well.

Anticipate

“…Jesus knew that His hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father…” (John 13:1).

We don’t always know when we’re going to die, but we do know we will die (Heb. 9:27). It is wise to anticipate and expect it and try as best we can to be ready for it by God’s grace and for His glory.

I think we best anticipate our death by living each day as if today may be our last day. The truth is, we could meet our Maker today.

Believe

“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).

That’s number one. That’s most important. Amazingly, God loved the world, the broken, fallen world, so much that He sent Jesus into the fractured world, so that whosoever believes in Him would not forever perish but rather of eternal and abundant life (John 3:16). So, if you have not trusted in Jesus and repented of your sins, do so today. Today is the day of salvation. Tomorrow is not guaranteed.

Love

Jesus “loved His own who were in the world” and “He loved them to the end” (John 13:1).

Being ready to die well means living in love. Jesus loved to the end. Dying well for us too means loving until the end.

Forgive

Jesus, from the cross, said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

How can we hold unto hurts in life, when Jesus forgave from the cross? How can we hold unto hurts in life, when Jesus forgave at the cost of His life?

Jesus modeled forgiveness from first to last—He came to earth to forgive and left forgiving. How can we who have been forgiven, not forgive (Matt. 6:7-15; 18:21-35)?

Tell

Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

Even as Jesus took upon Himself the worst ordeal that we can fathom and that was completely undeserved, He still had the good news of salvation on His lips. The one true King hung on the cross—a perfect rose between two criminal thorns—and shared the message of salvation with the underserving.

If the message of salvation was on the King’s lips on the cross, how much more should it be on ours?! So, if we are to die well, we must tell well. We must share the reason for the hope within us (1 Peter 3:15). We must share the reason why even while we grieve, we have hope (1 Thess. 4:13-18).

 Provide

“When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home” (John 19:26-27).

Jesus cared for His mother and so He made provisions for her. If we are to die well, we, like Jesus, will make the necessary provisions to care for our loved ones. This does not mean that those provisions need to be lavish and lush, but I do think we should do what we can to help those in our care.

Trust

Jesus called out with a loud voice: “’Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’ And having said this He breathed His last” (Luke 23:46).

In Jesus’ dying breath He did what He had always done, He breathed in and breathed out trust (Matt. 6:25-34). God has proven Himself in life, we can trust Him in death. Further, Jesus died and was raised to life to bring us to God and thereby Jesus proved that God is truth worthy.

When we trust God in life, it prepares us to trust Him in death. We must all pass through “the Jordan” but we’re helped when we recall God has been with us the whole journey. So, may our dying breath and our last mind glimmer be one of trust. May our faith not fail when are frame is frail and our skin is pale, like an anchor deep may our trust be tethered to the lamb who is the conquering lion.

 Receive

“Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), ‘I thirst.’ A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to His mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished,’ and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit” (John 19:28-30).

Jesus shared a need. He said, “I thirst.” In part, this is connected to a prophecy about Jesus the Messiah (see Ps. 69:21). But I believe another application is it shows us that it is okay to for people that are suffering to seek alleviation of suffering. Proverb 31:6 says to “give strong drink to the one who is perishing.”

So, we see it is okay, and I believe even right, to receive medical help to lessen pain and provide comfort.

[1] I found Matthew McCullough’s book, Remember Death: The Surprising Path to Living Hope, really helpful and eyeopening. 

The Bible on the Shortness of Life

The Bible on the Shortness of Life

What does the Bible say about the length of our days? It says are days are short. Here’s the Bible on the shortness of life:

Job 8:9

“For we are but of yesterday and know nothing,
for our days on earth are a shadow.”

Psalm 39:4-5

“O Lord, make me know my end
and what is the measure of my days;
let me know how fleeting I am!
Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths,
and my lifetime is as nothing before you.
Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!”

Psalm 90:10

“The years of our life are seventy,
or even by reason of strength eighty;
yet their span is but toil and trouble;
they are soon gone, and we fly away.”

Psalm 103:15-16

“As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.”

James 4:13-15

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’”

What hope is there in the face of death? In the face of the shortness of life?

 

*Photo by Scott Rodgerson

In the shelter of the Most High

Sunday morning in church we were looking at Luke chapter one and my attention was drawn to verse 35.  The angel said to Mary, “the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”1

This phrase brings us to Psalm 91 verse 1: “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. “

If we go on and read the entire Psalm.  We have some serious food for thought regarding the present situation we are in regarding COVID.

“For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease” (v. 3).

“Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness” (v. 6).

“No plague will come near your home” (v. 10).

“The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me” (v. 14).

There are many other promises in this powerful Psalm but the one regarding disease and plague stands out. These promises are contingent on sheltering in the shadow of the Almighty.

So does this mean no true believers in the Almighty will get COVID?  We know this is not true.  Many believers have contracted COVID and been healed—100% recovery rate.  Some recovered on this planet in this time and space and others are now experiencing the ultimate recovery and healing—instant healing—in eternity.  In thinking of a friend with COVID, he will be healed; it is a confirmed fact, one way or the other he will be healed. The Almighty has said so—Psalm 91 ends with the final and ultimate shelter: “and give them my salvation”.

So what does it mean to shelter in the shadow of the Almighty? To me sheltering in the shadow of the Almighty means being always conscious of God’s presence and “shadow” around me.  He is always there and by faith, I see His shadow.  He has said, “I will never live you nor forsake you.”

Isaiah put it this way, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God in the eternal Rock” (Is. 26:3-4).

To abide in the shadow of the Almighty means to have our heart, minds, and faith fixed, fastened securely to the promises of the Almighty.  Not fixed ultimately on medical science, our insurance policy, the government, our diet and health regiment, a vaccine,  but fixed on the Almighty.

My prayer for all of us this season will be that we are sheltering under the Almighty—not mainly sheltering in place but under the shadow of the Almighty.

1 Using the New Living Translation for all of this.

 

Statistics and Comfort in Calamity

Photo by Ben White 

Does the 2% death rate statistic comfort you? What does the Bible say about comfort during calamity? 

Some sources are saying that the mortality rate of COVID-19 looks to be 2%. However, it is too early to say. The percentage will be bigger or smaller depending on various factors (such as the age of the people infected, access to the needed medical treatment, etc.). I think we should acknowledge a few things about the statistic. First, 2% looks like a small number. And it is. At least, relative to a larger number. 

Second, to put it into perspective, 2% of the population of the world is around 140 million people. That, as we can see, is a lot of people. COVID-19 could rival the AIDS epidemic. Of course, it seems highly unlikely that everyone in the world will get the virus. But even a fraction of that number is a lot of people. And it’s important for us to see the numbers from this vantage point so that we don’t play the numbers down.

Read More…

Remember Death by Matthew McCullough

“Even if your life plays out in precisely the way you imagine for yourself in your wildest dreams, death will steal away everything you have and destroy everything you accomplish. As long as we’re consumed by the quest for more out of this life, Jesus’s promise will always seem otherworldly to us. He doesn’t offer more of what death will only steal from us in the end. He offers us righteousness, adoption, God honoring purpose, eternal life—things that taste sweet to us only when death is a regular companion” (Matthew McCullough, Remember Death, p. 25)

“If we want to live with resilient joy—a joy that’s tethered not to shifting circumstances but to the rock-solid accomplishments of Jesus—we must look honestly at the problem of death. That may be ironic, but it’s biblical, and it’s true” (McCullough, Remember Death, p. 27).

“If death tells us we’re not too important to die, the gospel tells us we’re so important that Christ died for us” (p. 28).

McCullough quotes Ernest Becker from his book The Denial of Death: “Man is literally split in two: he has an awareness of his own splendid uniqueness in that he sticks out of nature with a towering majesty, and yet he goes back into the ground a few feet in order blindly and dumbly to rot and disappear forever.” McCullough goes on to say, “There is a massive disconnect between what we feel about ourselves and what death implies about who we are” (p. 68).

“Death says your less important than you’ve ever allowed yourself to believe. The gospel says you’re more loved than you’ve ever imagined” (p. 74).

“Wisdom never pretends things are better than they are. Never shrinks back from acknowledging the harsh realities of life” (p. 87).

“Death has an unmatched ability to expose the flimsiness of the things we believe give substance to our lives” (p. 99).

“Death exposes our idols for what they are: false gods with no power to save” (p. 107).

“It is Resurrection or vanity” (p. 110).

“The God who made us has come to us, entered the darkness we have chosen for ourselves, absorbed the just punishment for our sin in his death, and made new life possible in his resurrection” (p. 113).

“Loss is universal, not exceptional. It’s guaranteed, not unexpected. Every relationship is lost to time. So is every penny of everyone’s wealth, and ultimately so is every life. Loss isn’t surprising. It is basic to the course of every life” (p. 122).

“Life works like a savings account in reverse. Zoomed out to the span of an entire life cycle, you see that no one is actually stockpiling anything… Everything you have—your healthy body, your marketable skills, your sharp mind, your treasured possessions, your loving relationships—will one day be everything you’ve lost” (p. 122-23).

“It’s useful to practice paying careful attention to the experiences of people who have lived before you” (p. 123).

“We need to recognize that our problem is far worse that we’ve admitted so that we can recognize that Jesus is a far greater Savior than we’ve known… Honesty about death is the only sure path to living hope—hope that can weather the problems of life under the sun, that doesn’t depend on lies for credibility” (p. 150).

“The Bible never asks us to pretend life isn’t hard… The Bible never asks us to lighten up about the problems of life” (p. 153).

“Death-awareness resets my baseline expectation about life in the world” (p. 160).

“The brokenness I experience—the frustration, disappointments, dissatisfaction, pain—is not a sign of God’s absence. It is the reason for his presence in Christ” (p. 160).

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