Living When Dying Is Gain

Hillsong - Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)
I think I've been staring at the screen for a good 20 minutes not knowing where to start writing this post so I'll start by telling you a short story. My small group at home has been studying the book 'Radical' by David Platt, together with more than 100 other small groups from our church. Last week, we were reading chapter 8, 'Living When Dying is Gain."

This chapter talks about having an eternal perspective, being willing to live a radical life knowing that even if it leads to death, you know that to live is Christ and to die is gain. Jim Elliott once said, 'He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." The past few days, I've had the song 'Oceans Where Feet May Fail' on replay. It's a great song on faith and trusting God in the midst of the storm.

I wanted to share with you guys the story of a faithful servant named Angela. I first met Angela when I was attending youth group a few years ago. She was there serving faithfully every Wednesday; and you would always find her at church on Sundays. Angela was diagnosed with cancer and started her chemotherapy sometime this year. This has been a very difficult year for her as she has been in and out of the hospital. About a month ago, I run into her in the church parking lot and she was so excited to have had the strength to drive herself to church, things we definitely take for granted.

This past week, I had a strong inclination to go visit Angela at the hospital. On a Monday evening after work, I drove straight to Long Island Jewish Hospital. Upon arrival, I went to the main reception to ask for her room number - #642.

The elevator ride to her room seemed long and dreadful. I had no clue what I was going to say to say or her family. I slowly walked into the room where Angela was laying down in bed surrounded by her mother and two younger sisters. The three women wore gloves and were covered by yellow wraps to keep bacteria out. It took my clumsy self a few minutes to figure how to cover myself with the wrap.

The nurse announced that they had a visitor. I went up to the mom and gave her a hug and then a few moments later as I was putting my bag down, she came up to me and said, 'sorry I don't mean to be rude but do I know you? I don't think we've met.' I told her I was Edson's daughter and her face lit up then she said to me, 'Oh Edson is such a powerful man of God, thank you for coming.' She then told me how Angela was in and out because the medication was too strong and that it could be any moment now before she passed on and they were just waiting. Wow. What do I say to that?

As I stood there staring at Angela, she was mourning about the pain she was in and how much her back was hurting her. She cried out 'help me I'm in pain' over and over again and stated that she couldn't breathe properly. I just stood there silently, I couldn't tell her it was going to be okay; I couldn't even pray because I was just going to start crying the moment I'd say 'let's pray.' I was so shocked at how strong Angela's mom was; she held Angela's hand in hers and told her how much she loved her. At this point, I was fighting back tears. How can I start crying when I'm supposed to be strong for these people?

About forty minutes later, the nurse said that they had to move her to Franklin Hospital. At this point, I said my goodbyes and I told the mom that I'll be visiting them at franklin hospital the following day. She mentioned to me that that's where Angela was born. She then thanked me for coming and said how thankful she was to God that her daughter was still alive up to this point and her life was a great testimony to others. I told her we were all praying for her and the family during this difficult time.

An hour later, I got home and I was talking to my parents about going to visit Angela with them the following day when we got the call that she had actually passed away not long ago. If I waited until the following day to go visit her at the hospital, it would have been too late.

Angela's life may have ended early; she was so young and full of life with a contagious smile. But Angela fought her battle with cancer with grace and faith. She fought a good fight and she inspired, encouraged and touched many lives along the way. She died believing that God could still heal her, but even if he didn't, she knew that earth was not her home and heaven was a reward. When you visit someone at the hospital who is in so much pain that words cannot even describe, to die really is gain.

On June 9th, 2013, five days after my niece was born, my grandfather passed away from a stroke. His had been a long fulfilling life. He lived well into his nineties with vigor and strength. Even in his nineties, he could still walk and see. He was one lucky man and we celebrate his life. One may ask, how is it that one is given such a long and fulfilling life and others are given a short life on earth? I don't know why but I know that a person's life should not be judged by the number of years that they live but by the lives that they have touched and impacted while on earth. Angela may not have lived long but her life was complete and she accomplished her purpose for her life on earth. She left behind a legacy of faith and I'm sure she will be told 'well done, good and faithful servant."

At around 11:30 pm, Angela's mom called to speak to my dad and I heard him tell her what he told me earlier that many years ago when my little late brother was sick and he was in so much pain, my dad was praying that if it was God's will to take him, he should take him because he could not bear to see him in so much pain. There's nothing more painful than a parent burying his/her child.

To Angela, I say, you did well, you finished strong and we are all proud of you. Earth just lost a very special person but heaven deserves you more. You will be missed but you are in a better place, so until we meet again, may your soul rest in eternal peace in the presence of your savior! And may God comfort and strengthen your family and friends with the comfort and strength that only he can give.