Just last week we had a funeral for a sister in our church. She had cancer and Christ won. More on this later. During the last several weeks I was privileged to spend some very intimate times with her and her family. One of which was a prayer meeting she wanted to have in the hospital. Around 50 people piled into the ICU room and I was asked to preach a short sermon and lead the prayer time.
At this point the cancer had blocked nearly all ability to talk so she communicated through writing or whispering. Her desire to see the situation fully communicated, prayers be made on behalf of her family, and the gospel presented was inspiring.
I was told that in her last moments, the Lord had given her a peace to be able to make the jump from this life into the next. God always gives us what we need at the right time. One thing I always appreciated about her is that she liked to ask questions. She was a thinker and you could spend hours with her discussing different topics. Her mother told me the day before the funeral, “she has no more questions now.” Amen. She only has answers and hopes made reality. Christ is the ultimate answer to the question of life and all the smaller questions will be answered in His time.
As I begin to reflex over the whole situation a few different things come to mind.
1) There are times in most everyone’s life where God puts us on a platform and everyone is looking to us. In those moments, we have a great opportunity to show Christ in a deep, profound way that can affect many. For some it might be a wedding or birth of a child and then for others a tragedy. But for all of us, it will be at our death. Everyone is looking and thinking about us at our death but at that point all that can speak is our life. God used our sister in a special way in the last weeks of her life and is still using her as her death is still so fresh on our mind.
The thing about these times when God puts us on a platform is that rarely do we know when they will occur. And because of this we typically can't prepare for them. So what do we do? We focus on the daily things that prepare us for those moments. Daily things like prayer, studying Christ, and maintaining relationships will help prepare us to shine bright in those platform moments.
2) In the moment, sometimes things are difficult to understand. Have you ever used a magnifying glass to look at a photo or painting? It might look like it’s completely random and has no purpose maybe just dots of color or a blotch of paint. What purpose could that have? But when we begin to zoom out things slowly come into perspective and eventually you can see the whole thing in all it’s beauty, purpose, and design. That’s how life can be. In the moment, we don’t grasp what is going on. How can we? We are so zoomed in by time and space we can’t avoid it. As time goes and God’s grace shows we will be able to zoom out little by little and see. Then, when history as we know it is over He will show us from the eternal perspective how all these random paint strokes were painting a picture of His love, truth, and glory throughout all history. History will be shown to be a God’s mosaic.
3) Not cancer nor any other illness nor even death wins in the believer’s life. How can it? Death, that seems to be more powerful that life as times, has been reduced to a stepping stone through the blood of Christ. Christ has won plain and simple. For those who have allowed Christ to conquer their lives, nothing can ultimately conquer them. Maybe for a time or moment the battle may appear to slip but as it keeps going we can see that is not the case. Through the resurrection he conquered death and by faith we are unified with him. Just as he rose from the dead, we have been risen from the death of our sin. Not only do we have this spiritual resurrection that is active in the life of the believer now but we have the promise of a physical resurrection to come.
Read Psalms 116:8-15 below and think about the writers gratefulness for what God has done, what his response will be, and how God views the death of His people.
For You have delivered my soul from death,
My eyes from tears,
And my feet from falling.
I will walk before the Lord
In the land of the living.
I believed, therefore I spoke,
“I am greatly afflicted.”
I said in my haste,
“All men are liars.”
What shall I render to the Lord
For all His benefits toward me?
I will take up the cup of salvation,
And call upon the name of the Lord.
I will pay my vows to the Lord
Now in the presence of all His people.
Precious in the sight of the Lord
Is the death of His saints.