I’d like to die in my sleep. I’d like to be in my eighties or even my nineties. I’d like to have roast beef with potatoes and gravy for dinner that night. Maybe even a glass of my favorite beer or a Scotch before bed. I’d like to be able to do my nightly prayers and go sleep soundly thinking of my savior. I’d like to peacefully fall asleep and await the resurrection of my flesh. This seems like a good way to die. Others have different ideas on how they’d like to die. Maybe you’re an avid motorcyclist and would like to be on the road in your last moments on earth. Maybe you’d like to die with your family around to comfort you. Or have your pastor there to recite with you the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and comfort you with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Though most of us have really good lives on earth – and compared to others I know I have it easy – when God calls us home to be with Him our sinful flesh still fights to have it our way.
Currently there is much debate going on over assisted suicide with the case of Brittany Maynard. I won’t attempt to address that specifically since a much better response was given by Maggie Karner in The Federalist and also on Issues Etc. Throughout our lives there are moments when we all succumb to the world, sin and the devil. Whether it’s the sin of pride and selfishness (in thinking we can be God by controlling inevitable death) or the sinful brokenness of our mind and body (while dealing with mental illness which can cause suicide), both are derived from the brokenness of our bodies inherited by Adam and Eve.
Control over the Uncontrollable.
Let’s face it, there are plenty of things in the world to kill us, and most aren’t too pleasant. Cancer, heart disease, car accidents, natural disasters, murder, and (Insert current disease in the news). The list goes on and on. I think it’s a safe bet that most people would like an easy and painless death. No one wants to suffer or be in pain. Many of us even want things done our way after our death. I want my funeral to be all singing and confessing Jesus Christ rather than a celebration of me. In my death I want my family to be comforted with the Gospel and know that Jesus Christ has redeemed me and them. I’d like my family to be able to bury me. And it bothers me to think I might not get these things I want. Sinful men, like me, always want control. While a lot of these things can be controlled – to a point – the manner in which we meet God should be controlled by him.
You Shall Have No Other Gods.
I have a tendency to always consider my life under the 1st commandment more than any other, to always link my sins back to breaking of that 1st commandment. Perhaps that’s why God made it the 1st of the ten. Generally speaking, I always put myself first before others and before God. My desire for a painless death or a particular funeral isn’t in itself sinful. However, I am not really trusting in God as I should. I am not trusting that through whatever pain and suffering I may have in this life, He will see me through it. I am, therefore, making this life and my temporal body into my God. It’s very difficult in this body of sin to accept that fact that I am not in control over the manner in which I die. But the wages of sin is death.
That fall into sin by Adam and Eve has thrown us all into temporal pain and suffering. Death was not meant for us but is now part of what will finally bring us home to our eternal place with our God. Yet even in death we are confessing something, and death by our own hands confesses that we want to be God. But we must remember that while the manner of our deaths will all differ, God is always with us regardless of how we are dying. Surrounded by family or alone on the side of the road, God is with us. Peacefully in our sleep or suffering in pain, God is with us. He doesn’t take the day off or call in sick. The proof of His faithfulness is in the cross of Jesus Christ. God has overcome the world, including our sin and our death.
Therefore in Christ, we need not worry about our death. As Christians, when we die we die into Jesus’s death. Jesus Christ died every death, felt every pain and bore every sin of the world. Pain and suffering in the world will come, but in the end Jesus Christ has taken away our eternal death and the damnation we rightly deserve because of our sin. To the world death is never a good thing. The death of Jesus Christ for us was a death which is our greatest confession of faith, our only confession. His death confesses something big. It confesses victory. It confesses the forgiveness of sins. It confesses the love of God in Jesus Christ by putting all the pain and death of the world on His Son. While I struggle with my sin to want this or that in my life and death, I pray that God would continue to strengthen me with His Word and Sacraments that He would continue to point me back to my baptism into Christ and Christ’s death for me. Regardless of how God chooses to call us home, let Him call us all into his eternal kingdom confessing the death of Christ for our salvation. Regardless of the manner in which I will die – I will die in Christ.