Tuesday, May 01, 2007

sickness, death and hope in Christ

I know what you are all thinking. “What a joyous title for a post”.

Well, it is something I have been thinking on a lot lately. A couple of weeks ago we went to visit SP’s Grand-ma who was in hospital having stents put into her arteries, she had a minor heart attack and during tests they discovered a few of her arteries were blocked. She was doing very well when we saw her ;) While we were there we got to talking about SP’s Grand-pa who is a lovely man but who has been in hospital so many times. If he gets any sickness – he gets the worst possible kind, he has a pacemaker, he has had his carpal tunnels removed (ouch), he has glaucoma (the worst kind) and the list goes on. Anyway, with this in mind and with the death of Mrs S several weeks ago I have been thinking a lot about sickness and death and how as a Christian I should respond to it. For me the fear of sickness, death and separation seems to get worse the older I get.

What should my response be as a Christian? With my mind I know the truth and I know what the bible says but with my heart I struggle with the thought of death, getting sick and losing people I love. But the one true fact remains, our bodies will fail us and we are all going to die – we have no control over it and we can’t escape it.

Encouraged yet??

As Christians I think we think more about death than most people, we think on Christ’s death and what that means for us and we also think on heaven, where we WILL go after our death – I am not sure if I have been thinking enough on heaven hence the fear.

As someone who believes the bible and believes in Christ, I feel awful that I fear these things so much, but it is scary and sad, the thought of losing people, the thought of being separated from someone you love and the thought of sickness frightens me.

I believe the bible is the word of God and I believe it is true so I need to go back to see how sin and death entered this world. In Genesis 2:15-17 Adam was told NOT to eat of a particular tree in the garden of Eden because if he did he would SURELY die. This is the bible’s account of how death entered the word:

“The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” Genesis 2:15-17

We read on in Genesis 3 – that Adam and Eve didn’t listen to God, they ate the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and were cursed. They disobeyed God and chose to do things their own way and so God punished them.

I do sometimes struggle with why God would choose to do it this way and having talked to a few friends I was reminded of 1 John 4, the passage that was preached at our wedding.

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” 1 John 4:7-12

Regardless of whether I struggle with an issue - the truth is still the truth. Whether I am happy with the way God chooses to do things really doesn’t matter. God is God – it is his world and he can choose to do things how he decides. How I feel about a particular topic or issue doesn’t necessarily change it from being the truth.

God has shown us his love to us by sending his Son. We can know him and his love in a far better way than if we had lived our entire lives in paradise, sounds strange doesn’t it. But when I think about the times in my life that I have found the hardest those have been the times that I have clinged to God and his word the most – those moments though hard are sweet and to be cherished.

Another thought about death is that as Christians we are not defeated by death – this is the one of the encouraging bits ;) We are not defeated by death because Christ was NOT defeated by death. He beat death so that we can beat death. Death no longer has mastery over Christ therefore death no longer has mastery over us, as we are united with Christ in his death we WILL be united with him in his resurrection.

“If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin — because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.” Romans 6:5-10

The eye witnesses accounts in 1 Corinthians 15 shows us that people witnessed Christ's victory over death – Jesus was seen by many people, including his close friends and Paul who wrote this letter, over 500 hundred people saw him and it has been written down in the bible or us today.

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.” 1 Corinthians 15:3-7

We will be ‘co-heirs’ with Christ. This I find unbelievable – what an honour. We don’t deserve this but Christ graciously gives us eternal life, we share HIS glory with him IF we believe in him.

“But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Romans 8:10-17

All of this does not make the loss of loved ones or sickness easy, but it does help me to understand what a gracious God we have – that he wants to know us and that he has provided a way for us to be right with God. That if we believe in him we will get to spend the rest of our lives with him.

There are not just the eternal benefits of being in relationship with God but there are also benefits here and now. We have a God who speaks to us now through his word, we have a God who we can talk to in prayer and who hears us, we have a God who since before we were even a twinkle in our parents eyes knew us and we have a God who sent his son to die so that we can once again be in relationship with God.


blairandkate said...

Zi wa (aka Nix)

Wow what an encouragement you are, I fear death and push it out and try not to think about it. You have encouraged me greatly.

Keep up the good work sister....

Love Feng Hong (aka your chinese friend Kate)

Nixter said...

Thanks beautiful Feng Hong ;)

Glad you were encouraged.