Death and Dying

All the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died – Genesis 5:27

Has history taught us any lesson more clearly or convincingly than that death is inevitable? Even for Methuselah there would finally be a 970thyear that he would not see: despite his unique longevity, his remarkable story would still reach its eventual conclusion. The only two people in the entire history of mankind that have evaded death—Enoch and Elijah—are perhaps most well known for the very fact that they so unexpectedly escaped death’s inescapable clutches.

We frantically attempt to entertain away, or dye away, or exercise away death’s calling card: age. Yet, in the back of each of our minds, there is an ever-present awareness that our days are finite; it shows in the choices that we make regarding retirement, life insurance, and even mortgages (there’s a reason why you’ve never heard of a hundred-year mortgage!).

The recognition of our own frailty is apparently one of the lessons that God would have us draw from our experience in this world: “Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am (Psalm 39:4). This awareness should lead us to a serious contemplation of the meaning and purpose for our life.

What is the meaning of life? A question often asked, but rarely with any real desire to be confronted with the answer. John reveals to us, in the heart-cry of the heavenly throng, why we are here: “thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Revelation 4:11). We are here to please our Creator, to do his good pleasure each day of our lives. As our Creator, he is always worthy to receive all that we have to give.