If there exists one experience that, throughout history and around the world, binds mankind together, it is death. Death is something we all must face--no exercise or diet regimen, no meditation techniques, no amount of money can avoid it. It is the great equalizer.
The finality of death, coupled with the uncertainty of an afterlife, results in fear, for many. We see it all around us as we try so hard to stop the aging process. We hope that the next pill, the next surgery, or the next genetic discovery will be the key to extending our lives.
Not everyone, however, faces death with fear and uncertainty. A few years ago a friend of mine faced this faceless enemy. At 16 he was diagnosed with stomach cancer. The doctors tried every treatment at their disposal, all to no avail. For a year and a half Rob was in three different hospitals in two different cities. In that time he lost 90 pounds and all of his hair. He was an inpatient and an outpatient. Sadly, after 18 months, nothing remained to be done for him.
Having reached the end of their rope, Rob's doctors did the only thing left to do. They sent him home to try to enjoy the last days of his life. At this point, I was horribly sad, afraid of losing a dear friend and mad at God. I was mad that God did not heal him. I was also mad that Rob would miss out on so much.
Amazingly, Rob did not share my anger. In fact, he seemed to be meeting this horrible fate with the anxiety one might experience on a first date. To this day, when I think of his peace in the face of the storm, I am in awe.
His peace was not merely an inborn, laid-back look at life. Nor did it spring from a devil-may-care attitude. Instead it came from a decision Rob made only months before the initial diagnosis. With that decision, Rob found peace with God.
The peace Rob knew, he found in the Bible. In the book of Romans, he read that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). He also read, "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus" (Romans 6:23).
Jesus is the one Isaiah referred to when he wrote, "And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6). The Prince of Peace came to Earth so that each person might have peace with God. Rob decided to put his trust in Jesus, and this peace became very evident.
Rob is not the only person who needs to make this decision, we all do. We must decide if we will accept God's gift of eternal life. If we reject God's gift, we are condemned to spiritual death--eternal separation from God. If we do accept, however, then eternal life is ours.
While this eternal life does not mean we will escape physical death, we can face death a lot easier knowing that it leads to eternal life in heaven. This is the truth which Rob discovered, and the ensuing relationship with God made all the difference in the world. This is the truth I have discovered, and the relationship makes all the difference everyday of my life.
A college student explained to Oprah Winfrey how God has restored her purity and hope after experiencing the horror of rape.
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