A Facebook friend of mine lost her husband of 30-plus years to cancer just two days ago. His fight was swift and incredibly painful. Only five months after being diagnosed he breathed his last just hours shy of Easter Sunday. Watching my friend and her family battle through chemo and radiation, only to see their loved one wither and die so quickly leaves me speechless.
My friend faithfully posted regular Facebook updates throughout their journey for the purpose of asking for specific prayer needs with each health hurdle. Through it all … every surgery, every medication, every treatment, hair loss, steroidal weight gain then dramatic weight loss, every bucket of vomit, even the last 24 hours when his pain was unmanageable – my friend was strong, positive and at peace. My friend and her husband, who was her best friend and soul mate, both had a strong love for Jesus.
My friend did cancer well. I’m sure in her quiet time she must have railed at God a few times – probably had a breakdown or two. Who wouldn’t in that situation? No one would blame her for falling apart. Yet – her public social media presence was never anything but positive words of affirmation and trust in the Lord. She knows her husband is rejoicing in heaven now – cancer free and whole in mind and body.
I am both humbled and awestruck by her amazing faith, courage and love for her spouse and for God. What an incredible warrior this woman is.
How does anyone do cancer so well? How does anyone survive an abusive past, overcome addiction or come through losing everything in a horrendous natural disaster? How does anyone do ANYTHING and maintain peace through it all?
The answer is simple: Jesus. Yet during difficult trials and challenges – especially the loss of a loved one – so many people choose to run away from God rather than running TO Jesus.
Yesterday was Easter Sunday and I find myself unable to write about (or complain about) anything else in my life today, except my love for the Lord. Watching my friend’s journey, I don’t want to complain about years of battling depression and anxiety. I don’t want to complain about my dismal bank account or how my life hasn’t gone as planned. I don’t want to complain about my ongoing struggles with food addictions or yo-yo weight losses and gains. Because, realistically … I have nothing to complain about — not even politics, global warming, worldwide hunger or the border crisis.
Easter is a time to reflect and be thankful. I may not have as much as someone else, but I have more than a lot of others. I am blessed to sleep in a warm, comfortable bed every night – and even on those nights when insomnia is relentless, I still have a bed to rest my weary head. I have clean sheets, blankets, air conditioning and ceiling fans when it’s hot and central heat for when it is cold.
I’ve got reliable transportation, food in the pantry and the fridge, hot and cold running water and fresh air to breathe through lungs that are strong and healthy; as is my heart and mind (most of the time). I’ve got family and friends and while we may not always agree on everything – especially politics and the Lordship of Jesus Christ – I know they’re always there for me.
If all of these things were to somehow suddenly disappear, I know… that I know … that I know … that I still have the most important thing in life – and that is a personal, intimate relationship with the Lord, Jesus Christ. I serve a big God who loved me so much, he sent his son to die for me. No matter what I’ve done – whatever horrific thought I’ve ever had, every hurtful action or deed I’ve committed, I know without a shadow of a doubt, that Jesus died for me. I know that Jesus loves me and when I breathe my last breath and my spirit leaves my body, I will get to live with him in heaven for all eternity.
Jesus did death better than anyone ever has, because he beat death by coming back to life and rising from the dead. The grave could not hold him.
He is risen. He is Lord. He died for you – no matter who you are or what you’ve done. Jesus loves you.
“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the Lord, you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (NLT)
My friend’s husband was lucky in the fact that knowing he was going to die – he took advantage of the last months of his life to get his affairs in order. I don’t know for sure, but I would imagine this man did what most people do when faced with their mortality and a specific end date. He had the gift of time to say his good-byes. Time to right right any wrongs. Time to offer and accept forgiveness. He had time to help his wife set everything in order financially. He died in peace knowing that his family would be taken care of. He died with the knowledge that this life is not his permanent home. He passed knowing that Jesus was waiting with open arms for him.
Not everyone is given a specific expiration date. A family member just received news that a high school classmate was killed last week while running. He was 25; hit by a car doing something he did every day. Every day of our life is basically a crap shoot. We never know when the death knell will sound for us. We might have the chance to accept Jesus in those final moments … but then again, we might not. Why would anyone want to gamble on something so important? There are only two choices: HEAVEN or HELL.
The choice is yours. Which will you choose?
QUOTE OF THE DAY: