Interesting title for this post, isn’t it? Yeah, I probably wouldn’t use such a title if I hadn’t just heard these same words spoken. The most interesting thing – or maybe disconcerting, depending on your perspective – is that it was made in reference to the passing of a young woman who had been fighting cancer. The people who read this blog and know her know who I am talking about, but for the sake of the family I will not use the young woman’s name.
The comment – “it was a good death” – was spoken by the young woman’s father-in-law, who is a member of the church and a friend. He was talking to me within hours of the young woman’s passing, and he was recounting her final moments. He said she was surrounded by family, and she was surrounded by faith. He said she didn’t struggle through the journey from this life to the next as some do, but went peacefully. Hence, he said: “it was a good death”.
Now, I was glad to hear that the journey was peaceful, but the term “good death” means more to me in this situation than just a peaceful passing. You see, this woman had been struggling for some time – fighting the cancer that was attacking her from many angles. And she fought hard. She also fought with faith, as did her husband and other family members. And that’s what remains so clear in my mind. So when I think of a “good death” I think of how it was one bathed in faith and the knowledge of God’s promises.
As I think about this now the term “good death” may not be exactly the right term for what’s foremost in my mind in this situation. “Good life mercifully capped by a good death” might be a better way to say it. Here’s what I mean – this woman was not only a young wife, she was also the mother of a young 2 year-old child, and that in itself would be enough to rail against God and get mad. I could see myself doing that. But, in this case, for this young woman and her husband, the whole journey was given over to God. These young parents put their life in God’s hands. They trusted their future to God – and still do. They prayed for healing along the way (and they would tell you that this prayer has now been answered). They prayed for God to move in a powerful way – and they would tell you that God did. Maybe not in the way so many of us hoped, but in ways that changed the lives of so many and increased our faith.
My life is one that was impacted by the life, death, and resurrection to new life with Christ of this young woman. I have learned that we can trust God with our family and the future of our family. I have learned that when we walk with Jesus Christ we truly do not have to live in fear. When we live in the promise that God will be with us and when we trust that God will see us through the ups and downs of this life, and when we believe that one day all this pain and disease and grief will be gone – then, then, we can live a life of joy and peace even in the midst of pain and struggle.
I was glad to hear that hers was a “good death”, but I am more thankful that I was blessed even a little bit by her good life. I feel like I can really face the days ahead with strength that is not my own, just as she did and her husband and family still do. For that reminder and that witness of faith I can only say, thanks be to God.
Holy high-five to you,