Thursday, August 30, 2007

Conversation regarding death...

I had a discussion last week with several people. It began by an innocent comment involving the timing of a person's death. Now, I don't mean to step on anyone's toes at all. That is not my intention. The woman who made the surprising comment is a godly woman who I admire greatly and respect her even more. It had never dawned on me that she held this particular viewpoint. What is it you ask?!

The comment which had been made was, "Well, if our son were to die over in Iraq then I know that he would have died that same moment here at home. The Lord would have just used a different medium to accomplish His desired will." My friend then responded, "Well, God knows when you are going to die but I don't believe He has planned it. Since He knows the beginning from the end He knows when you are going to die."

I asked her if she had any Biblical support to back up her reasoning. She never really shared any, other than she did mention Hezekiah asking the Lord for 15 more years at the time of his near death. Of course, I had intended to use Hezekiah for one of my sources. :) (2 Kings 20:5-6)

I thought for a minute as other people were throwing out questions. Then I shared, "It seems to me that God Who, according to Acts, has "determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live," [Acts 17:26 NIV] would be in control of the times people die. Furthermore, I do believe that in Psalm 139: 16 it states very clearly, "All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." I went on and shared that God is so precise to know the number of the hairs on our head (Matthew 10:30) why wouldn't he also determine the day of your death?

The more I thought about it the more convinced I became. After all, God is not a god of confusion. Why would He be so careful about where you live, how many hairs He places on your head but not care about the detail of your death? Finally I thought, "God planned His own Son's birth thousands of years before He was ever born and prophesied when that would be. He also planned His exact hour of death. If God planned His birth and death why wouldn't He plan our births and deaths? Ours just aren't prophesied like Jesus' was."

I guess the above is why I believe that it isn't cancer that kills someone, nor is it a car crash, or war or any other act that is so often associated with death. When a person dies it is their appointment with God. God may have used the car crash, or the cancer or the "whatever" to accomplish His divine will, but He alone is the one who calls us before Him.

That for me, brings such comfort. However, I can understand why some people may not be so comforted with these thoughts. Hebrews 9:27 makes it very clear that it "is appointed to man to die once and then comes judgment..." My friend, if you are one who has not trusted Christ for your future won't you please do it now?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Cancer's Unexpected Blessings...

Cancer's Unexpected Blessings

When you enter the Valley of the Shadow of Death, things change.
Tony Snow

July 20, 2007

Commentator and broadcaster Tony Snow announced that he had colon cancer in
2005. Following surgery and chemo-therapy, Snow joined the Bush
administration in April 2006 as press secretary. Unfortunately, on March 23
Snow, 51, a husband and father of three, announced that the cancer had
recurred, with tumors found in his abdomen-leading to surgery in April,
followed by more chemotherapy. Snow went back to work in the White House
Briefing Room on May 30. CT asked Snow what spiritual lessons he has been
learning through the ordeal.

Blessings arrive in unexpected packages--in my case, cancer.
Those of us with potentially fatal diseases--and there are millions in
America today--find ourselves in the odd position of coping with our
mortality while trying to fathom God's will. Although it would be the
height of presumption to declare with confidence what it all means, Scripture
provides powerful hints and consolations.

The first is that we shouldn't spend too much time trying to answer the why
questions: Why me? Why must people suffer? Why can't someone else get sick?
We can't answer such things, and the questions themselves often are
designed more to express our anguish than to solicit an answer.

I don't know why I have cancer, and I don't much care. It is what it is--a
plain and indisputable fact. Yet even while staring into a mirror darkly,
great and stunning truths begin to take shape. Our maladies define a
central feature of our existence: We are fallen. We are imperfect. Our bodies give

But despite this--because of it--God offers the possibility of salvation and
grace. We don't know how the narrative of our lives will end, but we get to
choose how to use the interval between now and the moment we meet our
Creator face-to-face.

Second, we need to get past the anxiety. The mere thought of dying can send
adrenaline flooding through your system. A dizzy, unfocused panic seizes
you. Your heart thumps; your head swims. You think of nothingness and
swoon. You fear partings; you worry about the impact on family and friends. You
fidget and get nowhere.

To regain footing, remember that we were born not into death, but into
life--and that the journey continues after we have finished our days on this
earth. We accept this on faith, but that faith is nourished by a conviction
that stirs even within many nonbelieving hearts--an intuition that the gift
of life, once given, cannot be taken away. Those who have been stricken
enjoy the special privilege of being able to fight with their might, mind,
and faith to live--fully, richly, exuberantly--no matter how their days may
be numbered.

Third, we can open our eyes and hearts. God relishes surprise. We want
lives of simple, predictable ease--smooth, even trails as far as the eye can
see--but God likes to go off-road. He provokes us with twists and turns. He
places us in predicaments that seem to defy our endurance and
comprehension--and yet don't. By His love and grace, we persevere. The
challenges that make our hearts leap and stomachs churn invariably
strengthen our faith and grant measures of wisdom and joy we would not
experience otherwise.