dying_right2Last evening I sat in worship with a chaplain friend. We talked about our lives, work, families and faith. My friends, hospital chaplains, sit with dying people all the time. Somehow we also talked about a patient who is riddled with cancer and dying. I shared my concerns about a friend who is having chemo treatments.

I’ve had my recent yearly health tests and relief from good results. But someday, some illness or accident will lead to my demise. I ended up expressing my fears about how I might handle having a life-threatening illness.

I know that there are worse things than dying. I have seen clients, and loved ones, surviving in bad circumstances. And I don’t really doubt that God loves me and I will have a place with Him in eternity–as much as I can understand that promise. Yet as we talked, I realized that I am afraid of whether I will die “right.”

Honoring My God

I guess I have been so impressed with the stories of Christians martyrs and those persecuted. Will I be brave, strong, leaving encouragement and peace for those around me? Will others remember my passing as courageous, and even better, as honoring my God? Will I hang onto my faith in the face of physical pain at life’s end?

As we talked, my friend pointed out all the people and leaders in Bible stories who failed to die right. Some left seemingly selfish and vindictive requests for their families. And yet many of them are listed in Scripture as friends of God or pioneers of faith. Just as in life, humans are imperfect examples of God’s character and love, so in death.

I know and accept that because of Jesus’ death, I am right with God. It takes faith to live knowing that God’s grace is enough. And my death will not add to that righteousness. He alone, is the author and perfecter of my faith (Hebrews 12:2). I want to rest in that, now and forever.

“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).