"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." Psalm 116:15
My phone rang at 2:55 am. As a pastor, I have come to realize that when this happens, I am most likely about to be informed someone has died. I only have a second or two to wake up, compose myself, and wrap my mind around what I am likely to hear.
Is it a family member? Is it an elderly church member that we knew this was a possibility? Did something tragic and unforeseen take place?
I answered the phone, and a faithful deacon in our church was already at the house ministering to the family (our deacons in our church are true servants!). He let me know our beloved friend had gone to be with the Lord. He was a dear man who knew his time on earth was short. I was in his home a few days ago, and I had the privilege of praying with him and his wife. He was prepared to meet Jesus. I praise the Lord for that fact.
Still, it's a bit staggering to hear those words: "I wanted to let you know he passed away." Yes, for the Christian, we know that death is not the end. We realize that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Yet it still hits you. Someone you care for, and in this case, someone I had just talked to and prayed with, is no longer with us. And of course, there is a widow who has just said goodbye to her husband of decades.
I instantly felt a sense of rejoicing for my friend, knowing he was with Jesus. No more pain, no more medication, and no more being confined to a bed. I also immediately felt heartsick for his wife. No more conversations, no more kisses goodnight, and no more will he be the last person she sees at night and the first person she sees in the morning.
My mind went to Psalm 116:15, which says, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints."
While the word precious may seem like a peculiar word to use of someone dying, it is the perfect word for the one who loves the Lord. Think about it! When a follower of God takes his last breath:
He is ushered into the presence of God. Precious!
He is removed from the presence of pain, sin, and heartache. Precious!
His faith becomes sight. Precious!
He has finished his race. Precious!
He enjoys a sweet reunion with believers who have already gone to heaven. Precious!
He participates in worship free from sin, free from false understanding, and free from bodily limitations. Precious!
He experiences healing and life sweeter than he has ever known on this earth. Precious!
I am no runner, and therefore, I know quite little about racing. This I do know, though. The goal of the race is to finish. Sure there are things to enjoy along the way, such as fresh air, the thrill of pushing your body past its previous limits, and the clarity of thought and peace of mind. But the goal is to finish. Finishing is always the goal.
Last night my friend did just that. He had run well, and he finished the race. And it was precious in the sight of the Lord.
"Anchored in Hope" is a book Michael has written that contains forty daily devotionals. Whether you are a new Christian or a seasoned believer, these daily readings will strengthen your faith as they point you to Christ. To order your copy, click here. To request prayer, please click here.