Some time ago, I followed up with an old friend who had been battling a serious health challenge with some success, only to learn the devastating news that his condition had taken a turn for the worse. What had seemed to be a good course of treatment proved to be far less effective than expected. At that point, the prognosis was not good. It was disappointing news—a real kick in the gut.
It was the kind of news that one hopes never to hear, yet which comes all too often, especially in this time of so many health crises for people of all ages.
With modern medical innovations, marvelous things are done today. And yet, the brutal fact is that there are terrible, terminal illnesses that cut short the lives of many people.
This is a cruel reality, but when it is someone with whom we have a close relationship and great affection, it is shattering news that makes us cry out to God for His intervention and mercy. It makes us agonize over the questions of Why? Why this person? Why now?
These are questions that individuals and families have asked for millennia when unexpected, life-threatening situations strike. We know that God heals—yet, at times, He refrains. It is very sobering to contemplate one’s life being cut short or the prospect of extended suffering until death gives release. It causes anxiety and stress.
There are so many details to attend to, so many unfulfilled responsibilities, so many adventures unrealized. In this situation, with the realization that time is limited, a person’s priorities abruptly change. What was once important may suddenly be irrelevant. Unnecessary activities are set aside, and essential matters come sharply into focus. Time evaporates as one concentrates on medical visits, treatments, and therapies. Frustrating, debilitating, irritating, but required activities soak up the days and nights. Energy wanes. Interests fade.
This is a painful part of the human condition.
In the book of Job, this sobering but realistic evaluation of the human experience is found: “Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He comes forth like a flower and fades away; he flees like a shadow and does not continue” (Job 14:1–2).
The Apostle Paul eloquently put suffering into perspective: “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair.… Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:8, 16).
Embrace the Hope But there is a hope often spoken of in Scripture.
God has a great plan of salvation for those who are seeking His Kingdom and His righteousness and who overcome until the end. They are promised eternal life, ruling under Jesus Christ as kings and priests in the Kingdom of God. So, while terminal illnesses and other human tragedies do occur,
Christians can look forward to the promise found in Revelation 21:3–4: “And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.
There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’” This is why James, the brother of Christ, could say, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials” (James 1:2).
j. Davy Crockett III
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