Job 38:17 – Have the gates of death been shown to you? Have you seen the gates of the shadow of death? (NIV)
It was the first time that I saw someone actually die, and he was a stranger to me. I had just started as a part-time chaplain to a local hospital and received a call very early one Saturday morning.
"Can you come and help a patient's family member?" a nurse asked. "She's all on her own and has asked for a minister to be with her. Her dad is dying."
It took me about fifteen minutes to get ready. I was at the hospital within half an hour. A young woman was in a side room, sitting next to her father's bed. He was an old man whom I had never seen in my life before. He looked tired and weary. She looked exhausted and frail.
"Thank you for coming," she quietly said. "I just needed someone to be here. I didn't want to do this on my own."
We talked for a couple of minutes, and I read some Scripture. Time passed so slowly. Her father was breathing intermittently, and the young woman clasped his hand. She told her dad that she loved him, and once or twice, she tenderly stroked his hair.
And then the moment came. His face slightly changed colour, and the breathing stopped. It was very peaceful. The young woman quietly sobbed. I read from Psalm 23 and said a soft, comforting prayer. She graciously thanked me for being there, and then, the nursing staff arrived to take care of the body. The young woman thanked me once more and allowed me to quietly leave. I never saw her again, and to this day, I do not know their names. But the woman and her father taught me a lesson: death does not need to be feared, and dying can be very peaceful.
That's why I'm still a minister today, and it's also why I preach the Good News. Jesus has defeated death, and His great victory vanquishes all of our fears. Christ not only saw the gates of death; He took them apart forever. We may pass away but once on earth, but death no longer imprisons us, for Jesus has won our eternal freedom.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You are the Saviour of our souls and the Deliverer from death. You grant us an everlasting opportunity to be reunited with our loved ones in Your holy realms. We can never repay the immortal debt that we owe to You, but we will praise Your name forever. Amen.