Perspective on life and death

Published 6:00 am Friday, July 20, 2018

Our family recently faced a life altering event when we found out my dad had colon cancer. He will be 87 in a few days. The word “cancer” brings dread and fear along with it. In his family, several of his siblings and both parents left this world because of cancer. We were not ready to face the possibility of his passing.

My dad is a character. He was in the ministry for over 50 years. He always has had a testimony about the goodness of God to anyone will listen and has always been concerned for the state of people’s souls in eternity. Combine that with his constant attempts to maintain humor and a light heart in most situations.

He thought the surgery would be the end of him that very day, but even on the gurney, going back for over a four-hour procedure, he was asking every staff member who came near him if they were a Christian or if they knew the Lord. If they were, he asked them to pray for him. If they weren’t, he let them know they needed to be. One of the last things he wanted to do before surgery was pray for us, his family, that God would bless us and take care of us in this world.

Of course, we didn’t know the results or long-range prognosis if he survived surgery, but there was such a peace in my heart that I know it could have only come from God. Not only was I concerned for my dad, but also for my mother who has been at his side for over 66 years since she was 17 years old, and my brother, and for me. When the Bible speaks of a peace that passes all understanding, I can say that I have experienced it on many occasions, but perhaps never more than on that day. I had the assurance that no matter what happened, we are all in God’s hands who is a loving, merciful Father, who cares for His children and intervenes in the lives of men and women when they invite Him to do so.

I don’t know how people who put their faith in other things get through this world. On a day like the surgery day, no amount of money was going to change things. I’ve known billionaires and their families whose money could not constrain the hand of death. Being powerful or popular, or even the ruler of a kingdom or nation has no effect on death when a person’s days are done. Beauty is vain and changes nothing about or mortality. We are all going to succumb to the sting of death in due time.

Faith in God and a love relationship with him gives us hope beyond the grave. This life is not the end, but the beginning. Death is our ticket to shed these earth suits and enter the next life eternally in the presence of the One who loves us most. I won’t pretend to say that I understand it all or how the process of death works, but I know with my whole heart what is waiting on the other side because of the great love God has shown for us in this life. Walking daily in the privilege of His presence and guidance and the peace that goes with it is the signature in this world that assures me His promises are true in the next.

It is easy to stand from afar and tell people what they should do or how they should feel in a crisis, but the true intent of the heart shows brightest in the middle of our own personal crisis. I saw my dad’s light still shining bright when he came face to face with the possibility of death before the surgery, and my mother’s faithfulness to God and my dad, my brother’s steadfast strength, and my own genuine peace. I know that the days ahead may bring even greater challenges for all of us, but I’m so thankful to know that we will make it through whatever comes because we do not have to face such things alone. God’s guidance and peace will prevail.

Reach longtime Enterprise columnist Judith Victoria Hensley at judith99@bellsouth.net or on Facebook. Check out her blog: One Step Beyond the Door.