Peace on the Time of Dying
For most of us, death is the place where we most need God’s peace. When my father lay dying, I prayed to be present at his bedside at the moment of his death. God graciously answered that prayer, enabling me to enter his hospital room just sixty seconds before he passed, enough time to whisper the Lord’s Prayer in his ear. My mother and brothers were present as well. I will never forget the moment of his death because it was one of the most peaceful moments of my life. But as anyone who has experienced death close up knows, it can often be ugly and jarring. My father had been sick for many months. He looked gaunt and drawn from the ravages of his long struggle. Ordinarily such a scene would inspire revulsion rather than peace. But God was so present in that room that I didn’t want to leave. His peace was so palpable.
Todd Smith is a vocalist for the band Selah. He and his wife, Angie, are parents to three daughters and an infant who lived only briefly. Her name was Audrey Caroline. Because of her belief in the sanctity of human life, Angie was determined to carry her daughter to term when a twenty-week ultrasound revealed that the baby was suffering from a lethal condition. The weeks that followed were filled with prayer. But when the baby was delivered by cesarean section, Angie and Todd had only two and a half hours with their daughter before she passed away.
In a letter to Audrey that Angie later wrote, she said, “I didn’t feel like I lost a baby; I felt like I said goodbye to someone I had always known.”
Neither Todd nor Angie understand why their daughter’s life had to be so brief. They still grieve. But as Todd explains, “There are a lot of things that are just unanswered. And it is just as simple and as hard trusting Him because I don’t have another option.”
One of the songs on Selah’s album You Deliver Me speaks about God’s ability to redeem even the most broken aspects of our lives. Take whatever in your life is shattered, it says, and lay it down before the Lord. In his good time it will be restored. Or as Paul said,
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
Quotes from Pam Woody, “Hours with Audrey, Thriving Family (January-February 2010), 44.