I had a patient last week who developed the devastating illness that will take his life in about 3 months. A progressive, rapid brain degenerating illness. I have followed this man for years prior to this illness. In a way, I knew him. I knew many of his personal struggles and demons. I knew his work habits. I knew his likes and dislikes. But he will soon be gone. Taken quickly by this illness without any way to stop it or treat it. We can only watch. As his life is ending, I was reminded of how little hope we really have in life. How we really only have today. No amount of money, bargaining, or hoping will bring us more time when our name is called.
A question we all ask
There is a series called the New City Catechism that I am slowly taking my kids through. It basically gives a framework for understanding the world through a Biblical lens. What I am surprised by is how it has given me answers to very difficult questions. The first lesson is the question: “What is our only hope in life and death.” Indeed, faced with the future my patient has, this question comes into clear focus.
My son recently came down with a Strep infection. A common ailment for kids his age, I nonetheless felt sad for him. Miserable, throat burning, fever. I laid with him until midnight when he could fall asleep. Acute illness is a reminder of our frail bodies. How at any time some illness or infection could take us. How it could alter our lives entirely. How temporary it all is. Recently, or neighbors dog died and this also prompted many questions from his five-year-old mind. “What is death?” “What happens to us when we die?” “Does dying hurt?” I was thankful that as part of grappling with these questions and concerns, I can sing to him this anchoring reply to his questions:
“What is our only hope in life and death?”
“That we are not our own but belong, body and soul, both in life and death, to God and to our Savior Jesus Christ.”
Hope indeed. In a dark, desperate world.
This post first appeared on Rethink Redo Repair.