But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. - Matthew 6:33

Does It Hurt to Die?

Staff Minister Allen Krause, Wisconsin Lutheran Institutional Ministries

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (1 Corinthians 15:55)

On a routine visit to the nursing home, I stopped by Laura’s room. She was just sitting on her bed watching television. I had no particular reason to stop and see her, but there she was, so I took a few minutes to talk with her.

During the conversation, she almost broke down into tears. She told me that she had a kidney that was failing. Although her other kidney was functioning, she had concerns because she had recently seen a dear friend die in a great deal of pain. Laura asked the question, “Does it hurt to die?”

Laura* had been in the Navy and had seen the world. After leaving the Navy she married a well-to-do man. Money was never a problem. She and her husband had traveled the globe. Laura is a history buff, and the shelves of her small nursing home room have numerous books on history covering everything from ancient times to modern. She is an articulate and intelligent woman. She lived a life and did things that would be the envy of many. Physical ailments, not mental or emotional ones, put her into a nursing home.

Laura is knowledgeable of medicine and could answer the question she posed to me better than I could. Still, I tried my best to put her fears of pain to rest. With the experience I had in visiting nursing home patients and with my limited knowledge of medicine, I was able to assure her that pain can be controlled.

One need not suffer in one’s final hours.

However, her question was deeper than it first appeared. Her major concern was for eternity.

All people have different ways of dealing with sin. Some would say that they are not as bad as others, or that a loving God would not send anyone to hell. However, Laura dealt with her sin in the proper way – she confessed it. Although she had lived a good life and had been morally upright, she knew that she was a sinner. In addition, she knew that the longer she lived, the more sin she committed. Therefore, her question really was, “What must I do to be saved?”

I assured her that God is not angry with her. The punishment of all her sin was paid for on the cross. The law, which she could not keep, was perfectly kept for her by Jesus. She has peace with God, not only now, but also in the life to come. This is the message of the Christmas angels: “Peace on earth, good will toward men.”

Does it hurt to die? For the Christian the answer is an emphatic, “No!” How can it hurt to die? Jesus suffered that sting of death for us – the eternal pain is gone. Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! (1 Corinthians 15:57)

* Not her real name

[Reprinted with permission from Wisconsin Lutheran Institutional Ministry’s newsletter, Compassion, First Quarter 2011]

Mr. Allen Krause serves as a part-time staff minister for Wisconsin Lutheran Institutional Ministries where he oversees an expanding nursing home ministry in the greater Oshkosh, Wisconsin area.

Clearly Caring Magazine-Home Edition, 3rd Quarter 2011, Vol. 31, No. 3

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