My family walked in the shadow of death this last year. Not a pleasant subject, to be sure, but one that was thrust upon us nonetheless. I lost my mother in April, 2008. She was elderly and infirm, and for the last two years of her life suffered from the scourge of Alzheimer's disease. So, while it was sad to close that chapter, it was not unexpected, nor was it tragic. It was quite naturally her time to die, as it states in book of Ecclesiastes, chapter 3. On the heels of that loss...
On the heels of that loss, my adult son, with fragile health for over fifteen years because of the reckless activities of his youth, died at age 39. He had returned home from a trip to Africa quite ill from what was diagnosed as pancreatitis, a very painful and debilitating disorder. From this point on it was a downhill struggle, as it soon became obvious that he was suffering from liver failure.
While this wretched condition is not uncommon in the world today, it was devastating to our family. But, we buckled down to deal with this dreadful condition. It is not a pretty picture to see a loved one waste away, day by day. And yet, it happens and we summoned the strength and resolve to do the necessary. As the weeks and months dragged on, we worked together to provide the care needed until it became necessary to seek help from hospice care. What special, serving people they are. I have never seen such compassion and patience displayed by health-care professionals.
But in the end, the inevitable finally occurred. Then there was a measure of peace, as the incredible suffering he experienced ended. After his death, the myriad of details that ensue had to be dealt with. Many of you have been through this experience. All of you will finally experience it.
These deaths were close at hand. Yet, there were other situations which touched our lives as well. The unexpected death of the brother of my son-in-law at a relatively young age shocked and saddened us. So young, so much promise and yet cut off in the prime of life.
While contemplating the impact of these things, a first cousin was taken by death after battling cancer for over 20 years. It was not unexpected, but difficult for her children and her siblings. The funeral service revealed some details of a vivacious woman with varied interests who touched many lives in very positive ways.
In life, we make a few good friends who remain even though we may be separated by time, distance and circumstances. Two such friends of mine died last year, one from cancer and one from injuries from a fall in old age.
There have been others, but all of these have hit close to home. And, it certainly does give one pause to consider life, death and the purpose for it all. King Solomon wrote in the Bible long ago:
A good name is better than precious ointment,
and the day of death than the day of one's birth;
Better to go to the house of mourning
than to go to the house of feasting,
for that is the end of all men;
and the living will take it to heart (Ecclesiastes 7:1-2).
Maybe you have experienced the loss of loved ones, friends or relatives, and have experienced the grief and the resulting sense of loss.
There is real hope and solace in the truth found in the Scriptures, for God has a great Plan that ensures that everyone will have the opportunity to accept or reject His way.
If you have walked in the "valley of the shadow of death," as David wrote in the 23rd Psalm, you may be interested in our free booklet entitled, Is This the Only Day of Salvation? The truth it contains has brought comfort to many thousands of people. Order your copy now or download it at Is This the Only Day of Salvation?