Turn on your computer or the television these past few weeks and it was not be long before you saw a headline about the Ebola virus. The disease has crossed borders out of Africa and made its way to here and to various countries in Europe. We see the microscopic slides of the virus itself and cannot help but think about death.
In Oregon, Brittany Maynard has chosen to end her life legally under the state’s Die with Dignity laws. All you need to do is pass a psychological workup and you can get a doctor’s prescription for drugs that will stop your heart. Maynard is facing cancer in her brain that will lead to a horrific amount of suffering. She has chosen to die on her own terms before her body is overcome with the disease.
Val and I both have had friends and loved ones deal with cancer. We have had friends die in car accidents and illnesses. We know people dealing with these things right now. Some will be victorious and some will not.
As believers, the shadow of our mortality is a constant in our lives.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 16: 24-25
We are called to live dead, to have one foot in this world and one eye on eternity. With this in mind, how we interact with those in crisis is of vital importance. When someone you know is facing death, they will question everything. Always be prepared:
With Understanding: This person is no different from the one you knew before the diagnosis or accident. Illness does not make become someone’s identity. I’ve seen plenty of badly injured people recover with the right mindset. Understand where they are coming from. Validate their concerns, do more listening than talking, and be the shoulder they need to lean or cry on.
With Love: We are often left speechless when faced with a friend or family member in the midst of tragedy. It seems easier to give them space, put them in their own compartment that we can access when we’re ready. Avoidance is human nature and we must constantly fight this impulse. Keep lines of communication open. Be there. Show up. Your time is a treasure they will value more than you know.
With Hope: Don’t be fake or shallow. Pray with them, if they’d like, and pray for them alone. God can break into our world and heal. It may not be instant. The wave of life can start with one good day, one cell tipping the battle against infection, one effort to get out of bed and take a step towards the doorway.
If you are, or know someone, who is dealing with any of this please feel free to share this post. Any light can help in the darkness.