Maybe you’ve gotten a terrible diagnosis, like terminal cancer. Maybe you just recognize that life is fragile. No one knows how many days she has left, and death is the one certainty for all of us.
So, as Christians, how do you face death? How can you be sure that you’ll die in a way that glorifies the Lord?
The apostle Paul wanted to glorify Christ with his life. But he also wanted to glorify him in his death. He told the Philippian church that he believed “Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life, or by death” (Phil. 1:20). Then he added, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). Paul thought that dying was gain because he knew he’d be in the presence of the Lord Jesus when he died.
That’s our hope, too. The souls of believers are immediately made perfect after we die, when we’re in the presence of the Lord. We’ll worship God together with the angels around God’s throne. That doesn’t mean that we should just say, “Oh, man, I don’t want to live anymore.” But we have a hope in death that’s rooted in what Jesus has done for you.
In the meantime, though, as you’re dying or preparing for the death that will certainly come, you want to be able to say, “For me to live is Christ.” What does that look like? It looks like trusting in the Lord in the midst of whatever adversities you face, loving him and loving the people around you, clinging to him and knowing that the Lord himself holds onto you.
In 2 Corinthians 4:7, Paul says, “We have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our bodies.”
That’s what we want, even through our suffering, even on the day we die. We want the life of Christ to be seen in and through us. Paul continues:
We who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So that death is at work in us but life in you. Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, ‘I believed and so I spoke,’ we also believe and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into His presence.2 Cor. 4:11–14
Then he adds, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed, day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen” (2 Cor. 4:16–18).
Continue to cling to the Lord. Know that he’s clinging to you. Look to the things that are unseen. God is at work in you manifesting the life of Jesus, by the grace of His Spirit, through your life—even as your body fails. Continue to trust in the Lord, to rest in him, and cling to that hope in the midst of your suffering. Seek to please the Lord and honor him. Trust him as your outer self wastes away.
That’s how you glorify the Lord in your death.
He’s renewing you inwardly. He’s with you. And he’ll bring you, through death, into his presence, perfectly and forever.