“None of us can hold back our spirit from departing. None of us has the power to prevent the day of our death. There is no escaping that obligation, that dark battle. And in the face of death, wickedness will certainly not rescue those who practice it” (Eccl. 8:8).
We know these words of Solomon to be true. There is no escaping the day of our death. But there is a way to assure that on that day we will indeed be rescued. Unlike those who practice wickedness with no hope of rescue, First Timothy 1:15 emphatically says, “This is a true saying, and everyone should believe it: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”
Two true stories follow. These are the stories of two people who, though they had sinned, believed that Jesus Christ came into the world to save them. That belief profoundly affected the day of their deaths.
Brenda was a close friend during my teen years. Brenda’s father and mother had been missionaries in Africa. When their family returned to the United States, Brenda’s father became the pastor of the church I attended. About the same time that Brenda left for college, her father became director of mission work for the denomination. Brenda’s father traveled often to the various mission ministries and while on a trip in Africa was killed in a car accident. He was buried in Sierra Leone, where he and his wife had ministered together.
After college, Brenda married, and soon after the birth of her second child, she was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor. Her last days were spent in a coma-like state. Brenda’s husband and mother stayed by her bedside during those last days of her life—except to care for Brenda’s young children. They were there when the unexpected happened. Brenda became conscious, looked into the distance, smiled, and said, “Daddy!” In the next instant her spirit departed this world. In the face of death, Brenda was rescued.
Sonia was a dear friend during my adult years. We met when I read a newspaper article about Sonia’s twenty-year battle with cancer and her ministry to others with cancer. Sonia was a gifted speaker who spoke often to groups about her Lord, she was a popular Bible teacher with the female inmates at our county prison, and she went to the streets ministering to prostitutes. Sonia reached out to every hurting soul who crossed her path, and she never wavered from believing that Jesus Christ was the answer for all the wounded people she met. During the years I knew Sonia, her life was marked by pain and loss from the cancer that was relentlessly destroying her body, but she never lost hope in her Savior. In her weakness and pain, Jesus made her an effective witness to His love and mercy.
During Sonia’s last few months on earth, her body became weaker, and her pain became almost unbearable. On the night of her death, tears streamed down Sonia’s face as she tried to rest and cope with the pain. Finally she fell asleep for a few hours. Her family was there when the unexpected happened. Sonia awoke singing—yes, singing—a hymn of praise to her beloved Savior, took another breath, and in the next instant her spirit departed this world. In the face of death, Sonia was rescued.
Both of my friends experienced great suffering during their lifetimes, for they were, as we all are, bound by the forces of the “dark battle” of this life. But both of my friends accepted the salvation given to them by Jesus Christ, served Him wholeheartedly, and died gloriously rescued by Jesus. When they faced the final enemy of death, they knew the reality of Paul’s words to Timothy that God is “our Savior” and “Jesus Christ our hope” (1 Tim. 1:1).
Solomon came to this conclusion regarding the day of our death: “Even though a person sins a hundred times…I know that those who fear God will be better off” (Eccl. 8:12). And to that we say, “Thank You, Lord Jesus, and amen!”
© 2010 Arlina Yates