Thursday, 21 July 2016

“Fighting the Good Fight” 2 Timothy 4:7-8

Summer Thoughts Abound 1
“Fighting the Good Fight”  2 Timothy 4:7-8

                This past week while I was on vacation I attended a
memorial service celebrating the life of one of my cousins. She is the first of my twenty cousins to die and she was just 65 years old. Sitting in the sanctuary of her church home brought many thoughts about life and death and the gift and promise of eternal life made possible in Jesus.  As I listened to her pastor speak about the joy of life she shared with her family I could not help but think about what we as a family have lost in her death. Yet in the weeks leading to her death she had much pain due to cancer and her vibrant smile was not present as she wanted to sleep and rest. But it was the expression of words that my aunt shared with me that remains. “I’m supposed to die first. It’s not right.”
                These words have resonated with me. One generation dies before the next grows older. This is the natural order of life. Yet what are we experiencing now in Canada? Different generations living longer than ever. But also people choosing death over life because pain management and palliative care is not available as they enter the final months of life. How do we justify this? Do we need to? Of what are we afraid? 
                In Hebrews 2 we read,” Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death- that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”  
                Jesus was born and raised as a human boy and became an adult man. He had flesh and blood and he knew what it meant to grieve the death of those whom he loved. He also knew that his purpose as God’s Son was to come to earth and live and die and rise again. Because Jesus had the power to break death and live again. Through him, we have nothing to fear by death; we just need to be ready to die as the children of God. 
                When a person dies we mourn the death of their physical presence with us. But for the one whose faith is in Christ- there is joy for they are received by Christ.  Yet with our understanding of life to be celebrated whose decision should it be for death? God’s, a family member, a physician or the individual who seeks help to leave this world?  Up until now we would say their life and death is in God’s hands but is this the case today?
                For my cousin, her fight against cancer was fought. She kept her faith and God called her home to rest. She believed in Christ Jesus and she is in His presence. We grieve and mourn her death as a family and comfort each other as best as we can and we pray. ( 2 Timothy 4:7-8)
Do you fear death? Are you afraid of dying or what comes after? For many people until we get to that time in our lives (nearing death) we cannot really answer except from our thoughts. Emotionally we often don’t want to talk about the fact that we will die for it is really the dying that causes us to be afraid. Or it could be that we are unsure of what happens afterwards. Whose face shall you meet? As faithful believers in Jesus, will you see Christ and receive the ‘crown of righteousness’ or are you not sure? What does fighting the good fight in life mean to you? How will your life’s race finish? 

God of hope, of life and death and new life we praise you. Thank you for the gift and wonder of life itself and the faith we have in Jesus who will call us home to him after dying is completed. Be with us each step of our life’s journey and lead us always we pray. Amen.