This podcast will help you get ready to face the inevitable unpleasant things that will happen in your life — things like trouble, suffering, sickness, and death — the death of people you love and your own death. Trouble, suffering, and death are common threads that run throughout all of humanity. It is inescapable. You will never meet a person who has not, is not, and will not experience these terrible things in life. Yet, we attempt to hide from these inevitabilities, to pretend they don’t exist or that they won’t happen to us. Our world is filled with news of people dying, children suffering, entire government systems and organizations enduring trouble and turmoil, but we tend to see these as things that only happen to “other people” and never to us. Trouble, suffering, and death come equally to all people, of all races, from every socio-economic status, of every religion, in every country of the world. It makes us all equal. This podcast will show you how to accept these realities of life, and not just cope, but face trouble, suffering, and death in your own life and in the world with confidence, courage, class, and most of all, with faith, hope, and charity.
In recent months, several news stories regarding death have captured our attention. For example, the nine people killed in a church in Charleston, SC, the Marines who were shot to death in Chattanooga, TN, the movie theater shooting in Lafayette, LA, that left three people dead, and the death of Whitney Houston’s daughter Bobbi Kristina. This is not to mention the constant news of those who die from wars and terror attacks in the Middle East and North Africa. Death is all around us.
The Bible says in Hebrews 9:27: “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.”
The featured quote for this episode is from Matthew Henry. He said, “He whose head is in heaven need not fear to put his feet into the grave.”
Our topic for today is titled “When Death Arrives (Part 1)” from the book, “The Art of Dying: Living Fully into the Life to Come” by Rob Moll. And, I want to remind you to take advantage of our special offer. If you enjoy this podcast, please feel free to purchase a copy of this book — “The Art of Dying” by Rob Moll. It is available on our website for just $20.
Our culture simply doesn’t know what to think about death. Through medicine and science we know more about death and how to forestall it than ever before. Yet we know very little about caring for a dying person. We don’t know what to expect or how to prepare for our own death. And we’re often awkward at best when trying to comfort a friend in grief.
Our culture is fighting, and sometimes succeeding, to expand the so-called right to die. We hear stories of the compassion of family members and doctors who assist in the deaths of terminally ill patients. Yet our doctors and hospitals are astounding in their ability and passionate desire to rescue cancer sufferers, accident victims or heart-attack patients. We have come to expect medical breakthroughs, vaccines and wonder-working drugs.
There is no shortage of books, studies and experts ready to explain our culture’s fear of death or our eagerness to avoid it. Yet some of our bestsellers—Tuesdays with Morrie, The Last Lecture, 90 Minutes in Heaven—feature stories about people dying, or nearly so, and the lessons they discovered at the end of life. Celebrities give a whole society the opportunity to follow along in the struggle with a terminal disease and publicly, at least on TV, mourn their deaths.
Having volunteered with hospice patients and worked with grieving families at a funeral home, I’ve seen the results of this confusion firsthand. Interviewing families, doctors and hospice workers, it’s clear that our paradoxical approach to death is largely due to the fact that we are strangers to death—despite it being ever present. Caring for elderly parents is typically our first prolonged and engaged confrontation with death. Even then, however, doctors and nurses often guide us through the experience. It’s not unusual for children to care for their parents from a distance, calling doctors or arranging transportation and nursing care, further removing us from face-to-face interaction with death and dying.
Death is all around us, however. Our movies are filled with violent deaths. Daily news reports feature wars that may involve our own neighbors, family members or church friends. We receive appeals from development agencies and news outlets to help ethnic groups, such as those in Darfur, targeted for violence by more powerful neighbors. We are asked to support relief workers caring for people struck by famine, natural disasters or epidemics.
I remember my first experience, after college, in a group that met weekly for prayer. I was amazed that, unlike my college experiences praying with friends, more than half of our prayer requests were for health issues. Often we prayed for people with potentially life-threatening illnesses. Some acquaintances at work went on leave as they received chemotherapy, and some of them never recovered. Often we prayed, as colleagues awaited test results, “Lord, let it turn out to be nothing at all.”
Even at a young age, we are around death. A friend from my high school youth group killed herself. Another friend from college died one summer in a car accident. My brother’s youth group volunteer was murdered at a highway rest stop. Facebook friends fill their updates with information on ailing relatives.
Tragic as these incidents are, however, they are not the same as a sustained face-to-face encounter with a loved one on his deathbed. They don’t affect our lives in the same way. Prayer requests and Facebook updates do not breed familiarity. While they can and should lead us to reflect on our own death and encourage us to live in the light of our mortality, often our busy lives don’t allow this reflection. Death, while ever present, is ever more removed from our firsthand experience.
The average American’s first intimate encounter with death might not occur until she is well beyond middle age. “Until their loved ones lie in the last light,” author Stephen Kiernan says, “families today do not know mortality.” In fact, as people routinely live into their nineties, it is now not unusual to have elderly children taking care of their even more elderly parents.
When we are finally called on to be with a dying loved one, we must learn what to do and how to behave on the fly. This is a drastic change from the days when dying was a more familiar, if an equally unwelcome, presence. “All the things that once prepared us for death,” writes journalist Virginia Morris, “regular experience with illness and death, public grief and mourning, a culture and philosophy of death, interaction with the elderly, as well as the visibility of our own aging—are virtually gone from our lives.”
For most of the last century, death has moved steadily away from view. Over the course of the first half of the twentieth century, the site of death moved from the home to the hospital. In 1908, 14 percent of all deaths occurred in an institutional setting, either a hospital, nursing home or other facility. Just six years later the figure had jumped to 25 percent. By the end of the century it was nearly 80 percent.
As the place of death moved to the hospital, people became less familiar with the sights and sounds of the very ill. Medical personnel took over the intimate care of the patient, often simply because their expertise was required. These changes allowed patients to survive—at least temporarily—diseases that would have killed them. But through those exchanges, we forgot what death looks like, and we lost something. We now keep death at a distance. The dying, says historian Phillipe Aries, are pushed out of sight because society cannot endure their presence. While it was once common for friends, family and even strangers to pay respects to someone on her deathbed, Aries says, “It is no longer acceptable for strangers to come into a room that smells of urine, sweat, and gangrene, and where the sheets are soiled. Access to this room must be forbidden, except to a few intimates capable of overcoming their disgust, or to those indispensable persons who provide certain services.”
We have forgotten how to behave as caregivers or simply family and friends. We act clumsily and awkwardly around the grieving, often complicating their mourning. We’re clueless about what to say to a person on his deathbed. We ourselves are left feeling confused and uncertain about death’s meaning and its affect on our faith and our lives.
But our behavior, it turns out, is rather common and understandable, if still inappropriate to the occasion. “Nowadays, very few of us actually witness the deaths of those we love,” writes surgeon and author Sherwin Nuland. “Not many people die at home anymore, and those who do are usually the victims of drawn-out diseases or chronic degenerative conditions in which drugging and narcosis effectively hide the biological events that are occurring.” In other words, even those few who have firsthand experience being with someone dying do not fully experience the event—at least not in the way every other society and every other generation throughout history would have.
If the Lord tarries His coming and we live, we will continue this topic in our next podcast.
Let’s Pray —
Before we close, dear friend, please understand that after you die, you will be ushered into one of two places to spend eternity. What you do in this physical life will determine where you go. In this life, you have the opportunity to choose whether or not you will go to Heaven or Hell.
How can you be sure that you are going to Heaven? You can be sure by accepting Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for you on the cross and believing in Him for Your salvation. Do you want to make this decision today? If so, allow me to share with you how you can accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and be guaranteed a home in Heaven.
1. Accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 7:20: “For there is not a just man upon earth that doeth good, and sinneth not.” Romans 3:23 reads: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” In fact, I am the chief of sinners, so don’t think that you’re alone.
2. Accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
3. Accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” The Bible says in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
4. Accept the fact that you cannot do anything to save yourself! The Bible states in Ephesians 2: 8, 9: “For by grace are ye saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
5. Accept the fact that God loves you more than you love yourself, and that He wants to save you from hell. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
6. With these facts in mind, please repent of your sins, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and pray and ask Him to come into your heart and save you this very moment. The Bible states in the book of Romans 10:9, 13: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Dear friend, if you are willing to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, please pray with me this simple prayer: Heavenly Father, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you believed in your heart that Jesus Christ died on the cross, was buried, and rose again, allow me to say, congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour! For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry which publishes a monthly magazine called The Torch Leader. He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, The Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty University School of Divinity. He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica for over twenty-seven years. God has blessed their union with seven children. Find out more at www.danielwhyte3.com. Follow Daniel Whyte III on Twitter @prophetdaniel3 or on Facebook.