“Oh, how can I do this?” Bev asked me sorrowfully as we both sensed that the days ahead were about to become even more difficult. Perhaps I merely state the obvious, but there is no escaping that dying is hard. There is grief, loss of dignity, and frequently terrible bodily pain.
Bev was not alone in musing about how to travel that road hopefully. I too wondered – in my own thoughts – “How can I do this?”
The hospice resources offered practical advice:
Keep friends close.
Use music to soothe the troubled soul.
Follow familiar faith practices.
Talk with people who understand and empathize.
Try to get regular rest.
And, we have done all those things, and yet . . . the sorrow is crushing, the pain of spirit unlike any earthly ache I have ever known.
Prayerfully, I turn to the wisdom that is from above and found an old, new truth. The only way to endure is to remember Heaven! When Bev and I were talking and I told her the best way to ‘do this’ was to focus on the Eternal Promise of unending Life in Heaven, she was not, in that moment, greatly encouraged! She is a fighter and, up until a few days ago, was determined to stay with me and her family as long as possible. We love what and who we can see, touch, and hold. Still, we can only walk the road though the valley of the shadow when we have Heaven in our heart. Paul says it this way: “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!” (Philippians 3:20-4:1, NIV)
Richard Baxter, a 17th century Puritan, captures the importance of our hope of eternal life. “A heavenly mind is also fortified against temptations, because the affections are thoroughly prepossessed with the high delights of another world. When thou hast had a fresh, delightful taste of heaven, thou wilt not be so easily persuaded from it. … Besides, while the heart is set on heaven, a man is under God’s protection. If Satan then assaults us, God is more engaged for our defense, and will doubtless stand by us and say, “My grace is sufficient for thee” (2 Cor. 12:9). … The diligent keeping of your hearts in heaven will maintain the vigor of all your graces, and put life into all your duties. The heavenly Christian is the lively Christian. It is our strangeness to heaven that makes us so dull. … When a worldly man will talk of nothing but the world, and a politician the state of affairs, and a mere scholar of human learning, and a common professor of his duties; the heavenly man will be speaking of heaven, and the strange glory his faith hath seen, and our speedy and blessed meeting there. O how refreshing and useful are his expressions! How his words pierce and transform the hearers into other men! When a Christian can live above, and rejoice his soul with the things that are unseen, how is God honored by such a one!” Discipleship Journal : Issue 92. 1999 (electronic ed.). Colorado Springs: The Navigators/NavPress.
Have you Heaven in your heart, your mind, and your soul?
I am nearer heaven these days as my wife lays dying in the next room. She has slipped beyond my words and no longer can respond to my caress. The sense of loss would be beyond description except for that hope that I possess in faith- “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” (John 14:1-3, NLT) I am glad that I am not attempting to make reservations at this late hour! Long ago, Bev and I put our trust in the One who saves, who makes us alive forevermore. Have you?
The word from the Word steadies me on this rocky way. Though sad, I am not hopeless. My prayer is that the Truth will steady you, too.
“When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:54-55, NIV)
“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58, NIV)
Sing The Wondrous Love Of Jesus
Sing the wondrous love of Jesus,
Sing His mercy and His grace.
In the mansions -bright and blessed-
He’ll prepare for us a place.
While we walk the pilgrim pathway,
Clouds will overspread the sky.
But when trav’ling days are over
Not a shadow not a sigh.
Let us then be true and faithful,
Trusting, serving, ev’ry day.
Just one glimpse of Him in glory
Will the toils of life repay.
Onward to the prize before us,
Soon His beauty we’ll behold!
Soon the pearly gates will open,
We shall tread the streets of gold.
When we all get to heaven-
What a day of rejoicing that will be!
When we all see Jesus,
We’ll sing and shout the victory!
Eliza Edmunds Stites Hewitt | Emily Divine Wilson
© Words: Public Domain