Blessings of a Slow Death
By Don Ruhl
It is often thought that a quick and painless death is the best way to die. By this kind of death, a person does not have to suffer from physical pain or the horrible side effects of drugs. Moreover, through a quick death, the victim does not have to witness the agony experienced by loved ones left behind. This world is familiar and comfortable, thus to leave it slowly frighten us. A quick death relieves us of the painful knowledge that we must depart.
The problem with this popular view is that it does not consider the prospect of the second death (Rev 20.14, 15; 21.8). For faithful Christians, a rapid death might be best, because angels will usher them to the presence of God. For sinners and ungodly Christians, suffering does not end, but it truly begins at death. These will be cast into hell (Matt 25.41–46).
This is not an uncaring treatise on the pain suffered by the dying. Every ounce of sympathy and love ought to be given to those suffering. This is intended to awaken us to the material and spiritual implications of a slow death.
If a man knows that his death approaches, he will begin to think about important things. Thus, he will have a chance to make things right and die with confidence. King Hezekiah learned that his sickness was unto death. So, Isaiah the prophet exhorted him, “Set your house in order; for you shall die, and not live” (2Ki 20.1). With a warning of his decease, he could make preparations for his family and himself.
One of the thieves crucified with Jesus shows how a slow and painful death can be beneficial. Both of the robbers crucified with Jesus reproached Him at first (Matt 26.44). Evidently, one of them changed his heart, for he rebuked the other thief who railed at Jesus. The penitent thief spoke kindly to Jesus and asked to be remembered in the kingdom (Luke 23.39–43). If he had died quickly and painlessly, the aforementioned events probably would never have happened. He would be a lost man. Now, he rests comfortably in Paradise.
Therefore when you know your death is months, weeks, or days away, consider it a time of grace from God. For now you can:
- Make preparations for your funeral.
- Make last minute changes in your will.
- Settle any debts, so as not to burden your family.
- Forgive any you have a complaint against.
- Seek forgiveness from others for wrongs you have committed.
- Tell your family, friends, and others that you love them.
- Seek salvation and find it in Christ as it is written in the Scriptures.
Do not view a slow and painful death as allowed by an unconcerned and cruel God. Consider such a death as a time of mercy and grace from a God who “…is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2Pe 3.9).