2/05/2008

O Death, Where Is Your Sting?



Medical science has a lot to say about how people should lead their lives to stay healthier and live longer. Time Magazine had an article on a recent breakthrough study on how to prolong life.

Doctors have statistics to prove why a person gets sick of some disease at some point in time and why he will perish when some parts of his organs don’t function the way they should. They say that based on their present understanding, one has probably x months or years to live.

But I have met a few honest doctors—my son JB and our friend Leni among them—who admit that they don’t know for sure. There is always an element of mystery on when life will end.

One of our neighbors has been bedridden for almost 20 years. And yet, other neighbors have kicked the bucket at their prime.

I just got word that an acquaintance suddenly died at age 42. Stroke. He never smoked, never drunk, and was a gym habitué.

Two very close friends, Christians both, were diagnosed with breast cancer at almost the same time. One has long perished while the other is still going strong, with no sign of the disease.

My nephew, 29, was just promoted in his job, about to move in to his first condo unit, and had just left a celebration party. He was on his way home and got killed in a car accident.

An uncle (a couch potato, with cholesterol-sugar-heavy diet) who was supposed to have died at age 75 due to stage four prostate cancer, didn’t—not until he was almost 100, of heart failure.

We’ve heard of stories about malignant cysts suddenly disappearing or people, proclaimed clinically dead, suddenly waking up as though nothing happened.

My cousin was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. One doctor said she only has six months to live. Another doctor said her tests show only borderline malignancy and therefore treatable.

Dulce Saguisag survived cancer for 10 years and suddenly, coming home from a ballroom dancing session, her van got hit by a speeding truck. She died on the spot.

A friend who underwent surgery for cancer was nursed by his young wife. Years later, his wife also succumbed to the same disease and passed on, way ahead of him.

The list is endless.

I believe that Medical Science may offer an opinion, but only God knows. “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” Psalm 139:16

Beyond this, God invites us to join in His mysterious work by asking us to pray for the sick. “And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:13-14.

And so we do pray for our ailing friends and loved ones. God is all-powerful. Therefore He will heal or do something more important. And we will abide by His decision.

Fact is, unless Jesus returns very soon, our mortal bodies will all return to dust. Most of the time we ignore our mortality. But when someone dear to us dies and we come face to face with death, we suddenly review our priorities and concentrate on the things that matter most.

After so many deaths (friends' and family's) in recent months, I am reviewing—or re-aligning—my priorities and concentrating on the things that matter most. May God lather me with His grace as I try to do so.

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