A Note To A Dying Friend

D: You know of course, that I’m sorry to hear of further severe health complications, But my feelings, however deep and genuine, don’t cure your disease or take away the pain you do now and will endure until you leave. That sounds glib. Trust me, that isn’t how it feels and you must know that by now. I suppose it’s, what?—a bit of sad realism?

But your note still has a realism that doesn’t have the tone of despair. It sounds a bit like someone getting ready to face something she’d rather not face but has buckled on her armor to go do it just the same. I call that gallantry. But you have reason to be gallant. Your young Lord was (and continues) like that and you have done & are doing the best you can to be like Him.

In this phase of human living and in this ‘world’—the one we the human family built— for you, me and EVERYONE else, Death trumps all. That’s what Jesus had in mind when He says in John 6 that “the flesh profits nothing” and “working for the food that perishes” is a blunder; we’re not to make that the center of our goals.

Moses fed them bread, they ate and lived but then died. Jesus fed them bread, they ate it, lived but are now dead.  Here and now with all its limits of one kind or another life ends in DEATH.  And it doesn’t matter whether we’re currently healthy or not. Those that survive the C-virus will die later. Glib? No at all! But, depending on whose figures you use, something like 2 and a half million people die yearly in the USA. And these have nothing to do with the current C-virus issue.

Yesterday my friend Ray and I had a lengthy Bible study.  He’s past 90, bright as a button, survived WWII, but he’ll die soon. Death finally comes. It happened to Jesus and He said it would. It’s what we do in this ‘world’ we built. If it isn’t disease, old age or starvation or murder it’s of something else. Jesus said, “Watch for Me! My glory follows dying.” (See Luke 24:26; 1 Peter 1:11 and elsewhere.)

For those of us who will not!!! have anything to with or for God, DEATH is what we earn; it’s our “wages” (see Romans 6.23). If alienation from God is what we choose, it’s Death we choose and it is a forever death we get—it’s the everlasting loss of LIFE.

For those in Christ DEATH is a door to glory. In John 6:50; 8:51; 11:25-26, and elsewhere, Jesus says those who believe in Him don’t DIE.  Of course He knows they die because He says “I will raise them up in the last day” (6:40, 54). But He means they don’t die the same kind of death that is the wages of Sin. For those in Christ, those who trust in Him and NOT themselves, sins are not written down against them [Rom 4:4-8] so their death is not a ‘Sin-death’. It’s the prelude to LIFE.

There are two ‘worlds’ to live in. This one with all its creaturely limitations, this one that’s sustained by food and other fleshly (human) necessities. To spend our lives trying to stay in this ‘world’ is to toil to keep what perishes (see John 6:26-27).  To “save our life” while rejecting the LIFE God is eager to give us means we lose ourselves (Mark 8:35-37).

So, should we despise this life, trash it so we can get a better one? God in Jesus Christ became one of us—to despise life now and the potential for lives of love within our limits would be nonsense and cowardly. That there are those who suffer so severely that they wish for death is no surprise. We’re humans for pity’s sake.

Our death is unavoidable—Christian or non-Christian. To those who have by faith made His death and resurrection theirs, that is, for those who BY TRUST embrace their destiny in CHRIST’S experience. For them the last word is not DEATH but resurrection to immortality and ceaseless joy and adventure and freedom from ALL that brings sorrow and loss, within us and around us.

When those who came to know Jesus stepped into the water of Baptism they were saying I embrace His death as mine and when rising out of the water they were saying I embrace His resurrection as mine (see Romans 6:3-6). We can’t finally avoid biological death but we can avoid everlasting cessation of existence and so the everlasting loss of EVERLASTING LIFE

If you slip away before me, D, I’ll know where to find you. Where my Ethel and many of my beloved ones are waiting for me and others.



This entry was posted in REFLECTIONS ON THIS AND THAT on by .

About Jim McGuiggan

Jim McGuiggan was Ethel's husband for fifty-three years. They have three children and eight grandchildren. Ethel went to be with Christ on Easter Sunday, 2009 at the close of a gallant life. He has written some books including: Celebrating the Wrath of God; Heading Home with God; Life on the Ash Heap; Jesus: Hero of Thy Soul; The God of the Towel, The Scarlet Letter; and The Dragon Slayer.

6 thoughts on “A Note To A Dying Friend

    1. Jim McGuiggan Post author

      I’m happy to judge this helpful, Larry. I wrote that way becuase I THINK that way, of course and can’t think otherwise, but it helps me to be assured by another that there’s noting outlandish about the thought process and/or how it’s expressed.. Indented. jim


  1. Hiscovenantchild

    “Wait, wait… wait for me… I’m coming, too!” Oh, but I know you can’t just wait; we all go at our own allotted time and you, being ever so much father along the path than I, have need of, perhaps, a sooner departure–as though age has anything much to do with it for, as we all know, the “young” die too; and… “in Your book were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them” (Psalm 139:16). Still, I often think how nice it would be, when I consider all those whom I love, if we could just all go together and no body be left behind to have to “wait” their turn! ~ Forever HIS, and yours!


  2. jim gleason

    12years ago I was one the phone with my mom as the ambulance arrive at their home to take my dad to the hospital. 11 years he spent flat on his back or in a chair. Bone cancer,emphezima, neuropathy constant pain….He was the strongest Christian example I have ever known. 45 minutes later my sister called….he was gone.
    in all the years during his illness we had many many conversations about it all. I wish I could have said something HALF as meaningful as what you just wrote.
    We shall perhaps never meet this side of heaven Jim. But I cant wait to give you a big hug when we do. Thank you for your heart and example of what God can do with a person who’s willing to be spirit led


    1. Jim McGuiggan Post author

      Thank God for your father, Jim. “The strongest Christian example I have ever known.” Another gallant soul, imaging Jesus Christ as like Him he shared the world’s anguish (Matt 8.16-17). Maintaining fullness of faith under such prolonged anguish is very like the Lord Jesus—-gospeling and trusting while hanging. “Into your hands I trust Myself.” That’s gospeling!!! I’m happy for you and your family.



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