Someone said to me,
I have stage 4 cancer. I don’t feel anxiety or fear about dying. I don’t feel much of anything. I believe in God yet I do not have a strong emotions toward Him, or toward dying. I feel hollow inside. Should I be feeling something? Write a blog for me.
There are deep questions here; questions about one’s relationship with God, and how that should influence our emotional responses when we consider our own mortality.
When we consider dying and how we relate to God, we could ask some clarifying questions:
What emotions do I have toward God?
Considering the person I was before I met Him, what have I allowed Him to do in me since?
Have I participated and co-labored with God to see His desire for my life fulfilled?
Do I experience gratitude, peace and joy (fruit of the Spirit) when I think about God and how involved He has been all through my life?
Can I conceive how intimately He will be involved when He calls me home?
We may have anxiety about death, yet we must pass through it to see Jesus face to face. We can remember that Jesus knows what it is like to face death. We can contemplate His reaction when facing His own death; His response: He went to talk with His Father (Matthew 26:36-44, Luke 22:39-46, Mark 14:32-42). Jesus expresses very strong emotions to His Father, even to the point of sweating blood. And He knew He would see the Father very soon.
I take this to mean we should feel emotions as we face the end of our physical lives. But what if we do not? Can we see God as our great and eternal Friend? As our tender Father who has sung songs of redemption and rescue and healing over us?
Jesus invites us to come to Him just as we are, with all our questions. We are right to ask Him to continually reveal Himself more, to become our closest friend. If I consider my emotions about seeing a dear friend after a long separation, do I feel the same emotions about seeing Jesus? In this relationship I can find my peace, my joy, my identity.
Because Jesus faced death too, we can believe He knows exactly what we are facing. He says, “I know you, and I know how things will turn out. I am with you every step, and I will not leave you even for a second. Come, talk with Me and let Me show you how much I care for you, and how deep is My love for you.”
I trust God is stirring this person’s heart with precious questions; and simultaneously revealing His deep love for them, His intense interest in them, and in their sacred humanity.
But what of their question? Should we feel something when we ponder our mortality? I believe God’s Word says we should consider that our brief lives will end (James 4:14, Psalm 103:15, 1 Peter 1:24), even as we consider that our souls are eternal. Paul reminds us that our focus is not on earthly things but on heavenly things (Colossians 3:2-3).
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” Corinthians 4:16-18
We will meet the King of Kings face-to-face one day, and – if He is our friend – it will be glorious and wonderful beyond our imagination. We can feel something significant about dying to meet God.