How does a Christian face death? The words of the Apostle Paul from 2nd Corinthians 1:8-11, where he recounts facing his own death, are very helpful. There he says, “Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead“ (1:9). Sunday night I spoke from this passage as well as from Psalm 27, where David begins by saying, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”
As an illustration of finding such strength in the Lord, I quoted Abraham Kuyper — a pastor (and former Prime Minister) from the Netherlands in the late 1800’s. He was the father of 5 sons and 2 daughters. In 1892, his 9 year old son took ill and then died. During those days he wrote several pastoral meditations, including one that commented on Psalm 27.
Some folks present on Sunday night asked that I post those words. Here is the extended quotation of Kuyper.
The Lord is the strength of my life, is the blessed utterance of soul, which coincides with the Pray without ceasing.
For, if you truly live in that sacred consciousness, that, from moment to moment, the strength of your life, by which you live and from which you live, is not in yourself, does not flow toward you from the world, but comes to you from the living God, then every breath, every heart-throb, every pulse-beat is to you a sign from the side of God, that at that very moment He maintains you, carries you by His strength and operates in you.
Your own life in you is then a witness of God’s omnipresence and of God’s almightiness, and every evening that you kneel before Him and lose yourself in the worship of the Eternal, is then to you a receiving anew of your own existence from the hand of your God.
And he ends with these words….
If then there come days of trouble, when care and anxiety well-nigh strangle the heart, or sudden danger overtakes you, or the strength for labor falls short, or sickness or the approach of death makes you pine away in yourself, then such a devout practical life in the fellowship of the Lord bears its choicest fruits.
You then went up and down with your God. You became more and more accustomed to Him. Yea, even in your minutest interests and least significant difficulties of life you have then learned to lean upon your God. And that constant practice has given your soul the bent for it, has made it a second nature to you, so that it would be difficult for you to exist otherwise.
The strength of your life is no longer in you, but in the Lord, and now in days of trouble or distress of soul there comes to you of itself from that rich, deep conviction of soul the grace of a perfectly sufficing consolation.
For if the Lord withdraws His strength from you, all your anxiety and all your exertion will avail you nothing. And when He continues to grant you this strength of life, there is then no power in heaven or on earth, that can break His might.
Does a difficult task await you? He Who imposed that task upon you is Himself the strength of your life, Who at that very moment from His almightiness shall pour the strength in you.
And does sickness overtake you, or the hour draw near when you must die, even then there is nothing gone, because you lie down in weakness, or presently depart from the earth.
For He is the strength of your life, and that strength which maintains you in existence, operates likewise in and beyond the grave, and continues forever in the heavens.
~ Abraham Kuyper, “The Strength of Your Life” (from In The Shadow of Death, Meditations for the Sick-Room and at the Sick-Bed, 1893 (Old Paths Publications reprint 1994).