Our life is precious

Death is in the news as a few well-known people are promoting a campaign for the UK Parliament to legislate to make physician assisted dying legal for people suffering from a terminal illness. The petition states that “terminally ill people who are mentally sound and near the end of their lives should not suffer unbearably against their will.” Death is something we will all one day face. It is understandable that people are afraid not only of death itself but of the process of dying. Death is “the last enemy.”

The laws of our land have been informed by the Judaeo-Christian understanding of morality as taught in the Bible which teaches the sanctity of life as a gift of God. In Psalm 139 David wrote, “For you created my inmost being you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Mothers who cradle their new-born baby feel the preciousness of the life that has been entrusted to their care.

As a Christian minister I have often come alongside people who are facing death. Sometimes it begins with a diagnosis of terminal cancer. It has been a privilege to listen to people talking about their fears for themselves and for their family and then to visit them as they go through, what is often very difficult, treatment. We have been able to read the Bible together and pray and see how God gives daily grace and strength. A dear friend has recently died of cancer. When she was first diagnosed, she was told she would probably live for 15 months but, in the Lord’s goodness, she lived for nearly 5 years and experienced many happy days with her husband and family. Our days are in God’s hands.

I remember a lady called Gladys, whom I first met through a lady in our church who exercised a ministry to people in our community suffering from terminal illness. When we first met her Gladys, who had stopped attending her Welsh chapel, was angry and depressed. As she began to read the Bible and pray with the lady who visited her, she came to know Jesus as her saviour. She was a changed person and now experienced the wonderful hope Jesus gives. On the last evening Gladys was with us I visited her in her home and asked her how she was? She was very ill, but she answered, “I’m fine, you know what I mean!” She died the next morning and passed into the presence of her Lord with a wonderful God-given dignity.

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