Friday, October 29, 2010

Death Sentence: Living Thoughts on Deadly Matters

Death. A word that resonates a dark, & hollow state of misery. A point of no return. A twilight zone. A taboo. A cold and damp body. It sounds all too scary for me, that when my friend Joy recently experienced an all too sudden death, I realized it can happen to anybody, including you and me. No exceptions. Then I realized something. No, it was not "seize the day" or "live your life to the fullest" or "sing like you'll never sing again." It was actually a feeling of fear. I felt my hands go clammy and cold thinking that I could just die right in my own house. Or if my dad's cough worsened, he would probably be sent to the hospital and I might not be able to see him again. Or if the gas in the kitchen suddenly were to spark and burn the house, my mom might not get out alive. Or if I were to receive a phonecall from a stranger who would tell me that a person I know just died in a car accident. Geez, possibilities were endless. So I thought I better not move to keep me safe. That night, you would have seen me still as a rock. My body was stiff and unmoving including the tips of my fingers.

God spoke to me through His Word the days following Joy's death. He has his own way of comforting me. Well, apart from giving me brothers and sisters in Christ who showered me with blessings and encouragements.

Day 1: "Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life." ~ Revelation 2:10

Although this was part of a letter sent to the angel in the church of Smyrna, I felt it was God's letter to us as well. These words reminded me that Satan is indeed roaming around the world to test God's chosen people. Just like what he did to Job, Satan can persecute God's people and put them "to the point of death." I read the "Don't be afraid" three times (or more, I forgot), I realized that God knows what Satan's doing. That God knows all about the sufferings his people are going through. And in fact, some have already died. He knows the outcome. He is the one who created life and prepared the "crown of life" anyway. So we really don't have to be afraid.

Day 2: "I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one to them came to be." ~ Psalm 139:13-16

When I read that we are "fearfully and wonderfully" made, I imagined a master craftsman who is really careful in doing his artwork. He wants it to be beautiful, to be perfect. He holds it like it is a very precious thing with his whole body turned to it. He molds it, sews it, weaves it and sculpts it with much love and passion. He doesn't rest until it is wonderful enough. And this is how God made you and me.

We are God's inventions. And as an invention, we cannot simply say "Today or tomorrow we will go to this city or that city, spend a year there; carry on business and make money." No one, not even us, would know better about our plans and our purpose more than the inventor Himself. He is the one who ordained our days and planned for each day before we've even set foot on earth.

Since He knows what ought to happen on each day, even if death is lurking around the corner, we will be spared and protected. I remember one morning after the usual rush hour, my dad was on his way home from dropping me to the office. He heard gunfire from outside. He felt a strong gust of wind brush through his nape. He looked back and saw a cop from a bank pointing a gun towards a robber at the opposite side of the road. Good thing he passed by them safe and sound. When he got home, he saw a bullet hole on the windows behind the driver's seat and beside the passenger's seat. If he were a second too early, the bullet could've hit him in the head.

Day 3: "The enemy pursues me, he crushes me to the ground; he makes me dwell in darkness like those long dead. So my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed." Psalm 143:3-4

The enemy is not limited to people who threaten your safety in the dark night. He may also come from the spiritual realms. He is out there to torment God's people with wrong thoughts and depressing emotions. He kills, he lies, he cheats and steals. He distracts us from looking at Jesus, the hope and light of the world, to the fleeting riches and the temporary sufferings he has to offer. He enjoys looking at the fear in our eyes as we think of death, the agitation in our voice as we talk about death, and the great burden in our heart as we try to avoid death. Not knowing that we are already becoming "like those long dead." And you know what King David suggests we do? "I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done." Simply remembering. Remember how God has led you in the past. Remember that God has overcome death when He rose again after the third day. Remember that God is greater than Satan. Remember that God can do immeasurably more than what you can ask and imagine. Remember that God is in control. And remember that God loves you.

May He also freshen your day with joy and strength as you read His Word every morning.

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. ~ Psalm 143:8

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