Suffering at the End of Life
Many fear the unknown, especially at the end of life. We do not know when the end will come. We will not know what loved ones will do without us. We so not know if we will suffer or not. The words of King David strike terror in the hearts of those who face the prospect of a lingering death: “My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death” (Psalm 22:15).
Facing the end of life is a highly emotional and sometimes controversial moment for people.
With a decline in health, we tend to measure what we have lost. There is often somber reflection upon good days now gone and fear that the closing moments of life will be filled with pain and suffering.
It is important that Christians seek the guidance of Scripture in preparing to face the end of life. God’s Word establishes that he alone initiates and terminates life. In most cases he does not permit much, if any, suffering. At times, however, God allows some suffering before he takes life. This unpleasant thought is tempered by the knowledge that God uses suffering to strengthen the sufferer and to provide others and outlet to show love.
In nearly all circumstances physical suffering can be substantially relieved with medication and therapy. Mentally, the suffering may remain. We worry about our families and our own declining health. But we are assured, “in all things God works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28). This thought had Paul rejoicing in his sufferings.
We have all sung those familiar words, “I’m but a stranger here, heaven is my home.” Death means we go home. It won’t bring never-ending sleep or oblivion. Paul described it this way: “We do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him” (1 Thessalonians 4:13,14).
God, who knew when to give you life, will know when best to take your life. We know that death is not the end. Rather, it is the beginning.
To guide your doctor and family on how you should be cared for at the end of your life you might consider obtaining and signing a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care produced by Christian Life Resources.
May 4, 2018
September 9, 2018