How to Live? How to Die?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Praise Him All Ye Little Children"1 (Lyrics)

There is really only one answer:

Proverbs 3:5 – Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. (KJV)

I do palliative care at our local nursing home. I sit with dying patients, both those who are peaceful and those who are frightened. I offer to pray with each of them. If they answer "yes", I pray aloud with them. If they answer "no", I pray silently for them.

I've lost grandparents, parents, parents-in-law, a younger sister, and two best friends, some after many years of cancer. All were believers who knew and loved the Lord, all looked forward to seeing Jesus face-to-face, and all died peacefully without fear, believing His promise:

Romans 6:4 – Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (KJV)

Now my latest best friend is dying. She is a believer. Gradually, she has come to believe that acceptance is the key to peace. She has no bitterness. She has yielded.

I think of how Jesus pleaded for His life three times in Gethsemane, but each time, He yielded to His Father:

Matthew 26:39 – And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. (KJV)

At seventy-three, I anticipate with joy seeing Jesus face-to-face and falling at His feet to worship Him. This is my favourite Bible verse:

1 Corinthians 2:9b – No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him. (NLT)

Life's problems and experiences have taught me that our heavenly Father wants each of us to come (sometimes, many times) to the point where we say with a broken and contrite heart, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him." (Job 13:15a KJV) As soon as we yield, His perfect peace flows in.

I seem to spend most of my days, and many of my nights, at His throne of grace. But then, I realize that He invites me to come boldly and that it is a perfect place to be. In fulfilling our responsibility to pray for our families and friends, we reap many blessings. When sorrows arrive, He enables us to accept His will and to smile through our tears.

We can thank God that Jesus and the Holy Spirit also intercede for our families and friends:

Romans 8:26 – Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (KJV)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, as a body of believers, we bring our dying friends to Your throne of grace, asking for Your blessings of peace and joy, as only You can give. In Jesus' precious name and in the power of the Holy Spirit, we pray and thank You. Amen.

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About the author:

Elaine McBride <>
Haliburton, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thanks so much for your precious words Elaine. Blessings to you and yours.

    Elaine, Amen to this devotional. My experience sitting with those who were
    dying is similar to yours. Those who are at peace with Christ, often die
    peacefully. Thanks for sharing. Blessings.

    Dear Elaine,
    I was just asked to send a copy of your devotional, while I was on line looking for Presbycan!! This sort of thing happens SO OFTEN!! I have lots of examples of situations of thinking of something at exactly the same thing as a friend!
    Your devotional is a beautiful offering to all who read it. A lovely expression of faith. God bless you as you minister to patients in palliative care. I so often get the comment: “How can you possibly ENJOY working with the dying?” My response: “Just answering a call from our Lord”. It’s truly a vocation. I’ve been doing full patient care for many years.
    The Lord has provided a way for me to continue with full patient care.

    God bless your work Elaine. Thanks for sharing.

    Dear Elaine,
    Thank you for a precious devotional.

    Elaine, your devotional encouraged me the first time I read it, but doubled with the second reading. Blessings.

    Good thought. We (me) are often before God on our knees because we want something. Mainly God wants us to listen and receive from Him, guidance, direction and obedience. Simple really but yet the Church has often made it out to be more complicated. Death and its acceptance are simple, if profound. Life carries on after the transition and we will have plenty of opportunity to hear then, so why not start now?

    Good Morning Elaine,
    A lovely devotional, so many thanks for sharing.
    I too am a Palliative Volunteer here in Southern Ontario.
    I find my volunteer work so rewarding.
    I also share a great love of Haliburton having spent many summers there.
    Keep on writing.

    Elaine McBride thank you for today’s devotion. My wife went home to her Lord a few months ago.
    I rejoiced when it was over: And in answer to those who “wondered why” I replied; she is exactly where I spent my life preparing to be.
    She died in total peace. A quite entry into her new eternal home.
    Thank you, and God bless you abundantly today.

    For 7 years I was a caregiver for people I didn’t personally know who were dying. God has a plan for our eternity that is much better than anything we can imagine. We cannot begin to realize how much we are loved by God — after all he gave His precious son to die an unimaginal death to save us from our sin. It has been my experience that there are many, even in ministry, who find death is a thing to fear. Even though more than one generation of ministry is their heritage they individually hold on to regret, anger of past unresolved angers they cannot totally trust the fact that someday soon perhaps very soon this life will be over. I have learned and believe in my heart that I may not know my future but I do know who holds my every tomorrow and He will walk through it with me. Your devotional is verification of this fact. Thank you for expressing this.

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