Welcome to Episode #79 of Preparing for the Inevitable – A Podcast on How to Handle Trouble, Suffering, Pain, and Death.
I am your host, Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International. 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. They are inescapable. You will never meet a person who has not, is not, or 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.
The Bible says in Psalm 39:4: “Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is: that I may know how frail I am.”
The featured quote for this episode is from George MacDonald. He said, “Many a life has been injured by the constant expectation of death. It is life we have to do with, not death. The best preparation for the night is to work diligently while the day lasts. The best preparation for death is life.”
Our topic for today is titled “Living in Light of Death” from the book, “The Art of Dying: Living Fully into the Life to Come” by Rob Moll.
Joyce Tompkins was just four years old when her great-aunt came to live with the family. “She was blind,” Joyce told me, “and I ended up staying in a room with her and reading the Bible to her.” Sharing a bedroom with a sixty-year-old woman was a wonderful opportunity, as Joyce remembers. Over the next fourteen years, Joyce and her aunt shared that bedroom. It was a family value–to care for all in need. “On both sides of our family,” Joyce explains, “we have people who cared about other people. It was just a matter of that’s what they did; they helped people.”
Those early experiences of caring, even in small ways, for elderly family members were invaluable when her own parents needed to be cared for. “When my father would say, ‘Help people because you never know who might have to give you a drink of water,’ he had no idea he was going to have a stroke and be paralyzed on one side.”
After high school, Joyce started working but eventually decided to enroll in college. She didn’t enjoy her job and wanted something different. But just when her work experience and college degree could have launched her in a new direction, Joyce’s father had a stroke. “He was diabetic,” she says, “and two years before his stroke he had a heart attack.” Now, at seventy-four, he couldn’t get himself a glass of water.
He had served in three wars, World War II, Korea and Vietnam, and he ended his service without a wound. In the hospital, after decades of caring for his family and serving his country, Joyce was shocked by the doctor’s assumption that her father would go to a nursing home. “One of the first things that came out of the doctor’s mouth,” Joyce says, was “we have a list of nursing homes we can take him to.” The family would care for him, she told the doctor, just as he had cared for others.
Three years later, while Joyce was helping to care for her father, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. With the aid of professional nurses and community support during the day, Joyce was able to care for both her parents for the next two years, until her father died.
As her mother recovered and became able to care for herself and her father passed away, Joyce moved from Kansas City to Chicago to study theology. Finally, Joyce thought, she would transition to a career she loved. Six months later, her mother’s health suddenly declined. Her sister then moved in to care for their mother, and Joyce began commuting between Chicago and Kansas City. She took classes half the week, and took care of her mother the other half.
It wasn’t an easy decision to begin such a grueling schedule. But her sister, who worked nights, needed a break. I need to do what I need to do, Joyce told herself. “If it meant me leaving school, then that’s what was going to happen, because Mom actually voiced the fact that she did not want to go into a nursing home.” Joyce told her mother that we never know what may become necessary, but that if the family could take care of her, they would.
From when her father first had a stroke till her mother’s eventual death from breast cancer, Joyce spent a decade caring for her parents, and her experiences led her to help others who were caring for their own family. Through it all, Joyce sees God’s hand.
When I look back at what God’s done in my life, I will always say that I’m grateful for that window of time. I don’t know what his whole purpose was for me being here, but if he used the first years of my life to prepare me for those ten years and if he would have said to me the next day I’m ready for you to go, I would have been okay. If that’s what you had me here for was to walk with them through their deaths, that in itself would be great.
When she graduates from her program, Joyce says, “I want to work with senior citizens. They need something to do,” she says, and it’s simple for the church to provide that. “They have a wealth of knowledge,” Tompkins says, and she sees an opportunity to direct those gifts into the life of the church.
Her experience with her parents has shown Joyce that “there is a great need for people to come in and show compassion.” She says, “I’ve been in the hospital many a time in the emergency room with my parents, and I’ll see an elderly person in the bed in the emergency room and then there’s that feeble husband or wife with them, no one else.” What happens when a spouse dies, Tompkins asks. “What about that person who doesn’t have a support system? Who helps them? Maybe all their friends are gone now.” If Tompkins is available, she says, at least they know someone will be there.
Like many women caring for elderly parents, Joyce’s life has been formed by death. She made significant sacrifices in her time, career and personal relationships to care for both of her parents. Yet she’s found meaning in that work, so much so that she plans to continue it as God’s calling for the next part of her life.
Death ought to form how we live our lives because the qualities that define a good life are those that make up a good death. When we allow ourselves to be confronted by death, it is not easy. It’s tough to recognize that our lives on this earth will end, and it can be hard to realize that much of what we pursue in life has little ultimate meaning. In response we may deploy a range of methods to avoid being confronted by death. We zealously seek medical treatment to forestall the inevitable or we simply maintain lives that are too busy to be interrupted by a trip to the nursing home. Whatever method we pursue, avoiding death often means refusing to recognize what is valuable in our own lives. We can work against this tendency in a number of ways.
If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will look at “Introducing the Young to the Old” in our next podcast.
Let’s Pray —
Dear friend, please understand that after you die, you will be ushered into one of two places to spend eternity, Heaven or Hell. Here’s how you can be sure that you will not go to hell and suffer eternal damnation forever and rather have a home in Heaven when you die. The Bible says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” Here’s how you can be saved from sin and hell and have a home in Heaven when you die in more detail.
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.”