Summary: What would say to a man who was afraid of dying? A man who knew his death was just months away but couldn't handle that truth? Would you be able to turn his fear into hope?
OPEN: I recently listened to a man named Chris tell of visiting his relatives in Kokomo, Indiana. One night his family took him out to and treated him to a special meal at the Texas Roadhouse restaurant. Sometime during the evening, Chris got up and went into the bathroom, and while he was there another man came into the restroom and was obviously distraught. The man was upset crying openly and Chris was moved to ask him what was wrong. And the man told him this story:
He said he was there with relatives who were celebrating his retirement. But what they didn’t know was that he’d been to see his doctor earlier that week and the doctor had discovered a cancerous mass that was in an advanced stage. The doctor had given him 3 months to live. Now the man was struggling with how to tell his family – out in the restaurant who had come to celebrate a happy occasion in his life – that he was about to die.
What do you tell someone like that?
How do you respond to a man who knows he’s going to die?
Do you say: “I’m sorry?”
“That’s too bad?”
“I’ll pray for you?”
It’s difficult enough knowing what to say at a funeral. But being confronted by a man who knows his destiny, a man who knows he’s mortal, who knows he’s going to die… and he knows WHEN he’s going to die - that’s hard.
• The existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre asserted that death "removes all meaning from life."
• Aristotle called death the thing to be feared most because "it appears to be the end of everything."
Inside of each one of us there is the deep seating feeling that…
Death isn’t right!
Death isn’t natural
We weren’t made to die.
And the Bible agrees.
Scripture teaches us that we were NOT created to die.
We weren’t made to live out a short life… and then inhabit a grave for eternity.
Death is not natural.
It’s not the way things should have been.
Somehow we intuitively know that.
And that’s exactly what the Bible teaches.
Paul wrote these words to the church: “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.
We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
Therefore encourage each other with these words.”
We’re NOT like people who have no hope.
We are a people of the resurrection.
And it is because of that resurrection that we can encourage one another.
So then, how would you respond to a man in a bathroom weeping about his impending death?
Well this was Kokomo Indiana. Surely everybody went to church in Kokomo. And so Chris tried to remind that man of that HOPE. He softly told him:
“Well at least you have your faith”
The man looked him as if he didn’t understand.
Chris tried again: “You know, the hope we have in Jesus”
The man responded: “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
As they talked a little more it became obvious that this man had never been to church. He didn’t know Jesus, and he didn’t know anything about the Bible or its promises.
Now, what would you say to such a man?
• “Come to church with me Sunday?”
That would be nice. But why would he come? He doesn’t understand why he should bother. He’s never seen the need up to now, why should that change?
• “Would you like me to talk to your preacher?”
That might work. But he doesn’t know me and he may not be sure he can trust me. He knows you. You’ve shown interest in him. You may be the only person he’ll listen to.
What if this man’s hope for heaven depended ENTIRELY on you? What if his eternal future lay ONLY in your hands? Would you be able to tell him about the hope you have for heaven and for life after death? Or would you walk away and leave him facing the next 3 months of his life in total despair and darkness?