The night time nursery rhyme says,” If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”
But what about when we are facing death with our eyes open? What about those who receive a terminal diagnosis or those crushed by a sudden accident–those who realize that death is coming sooner than they expected? What should we remember when we face the “valley of the shadow of death”?
Many truths may be comforting in that moment. Those who believe in Jesus will be with him immediately after they die. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Death has lost its sting and the grave has no victory over us in Christ.
Another truth that may comfort us is that Jesus himself knows what it feels like to face death and finally, to die. The Lord, who is with us by his spirit, knows exactly what we feel like when we stare death in the eye. He knows the sense of vulnerability, the physical weakness, the decline of the normal functions of the body. He knows the slow darkness that descends. He knows it all because he faced it all. If we are conscious as we face our own death, or if we are near a beloved believer as they face theirs, we can always remember that Jesus endured death for us and will give us exactly the grace we need to walk through this valley, until we open our eyes in his glorious presence.
Jesus can say to us,
Yes, I know this pain, I know this suffering. I know exactly how you feel. I know your temptation to be afraid. I know how vulnerable and exposed and weak you feel right now. I know it all. But there is no need to fear. I am with you through it all and I will never be apart from you. There will be no break in our fellowship. Your body will fade, but my Spirit will never stop being with you. You will be with me forever. You are simply coming to the place where you no longer hope in faith, but rather see my glory, undimmed and unveiled. Have no fear, I am with you.
If I should die before I wake, or if I should face death during my day, You are with me, Lord Jesus. I commend myself to your loving, eternal care.