This week my younger brother Mark passed away at the age of 56 from cancer. It was a shock to our whole family. It's hard to say good-bye to those we love especially when they are taken from us much sooner than anyone expected. Let's face it: death is awful.
So, in Mark's memory, I dedicate this article entitled The Brevity of Life. If there is one thing that a funeral reminds you of it is this: life is fragile, and none of us has any idea "what a day may bring forth" (Prov. 27:1).
The Bible uses several illustrations of just how fleeting our life on earth really is. Here are a few:
Life is like a vapor that dissipates into the air (James 4:14)
Life is like a shadow that quickly recedes and is gone (Psa. 102:11)
Life is like a flower in the field, that is blown away by the wind (I Pet. 1:24)
In light of these realities, it is important for all of us to be ready to meet God. That my happen sooner than you think. Jesus told a parable about a rich landowner who made big plans to expand his business. When the man boasted that he had "much goods laid up for many years", God said to him: "this night thy soul shall be required of thee"!
Because life is short, we need to be prepared for death. The prophet Amos pleaded with Israel:
"Prepare to meet thy God" (Amos 4:12).
The Apostle Paul wrote:
"It is appointed unto man once to die, and after this, the judgment" (Heb. 9:27).
You may not want to THINK about death (most people don't), but it is going to happen.
But how exactly does a man prepare to meet God? Good question. Not by good works, religious rituals, or human effort. The Bible makes it crystal clear:
"For by grace are you saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph. 2:8-9).
It is not what YOU do to earn heaven, it is what God has already DONE. Jesus died on the cross in your place to pay the penalty of your sins. All you have to do is believe and accept God's free offer of salvation, invite Christ into your heart as your personal Savior, and you will have eternal life (see John 3:16). If you accept Him into your life, He will accept you into His heaven.
Right before Mark underwent his surgery to try to remove his cancerous tumor, he sent a text message to his family that read: "While I believe everything will go fine, please know my faith is solid, and I know Dad will be waiting for me with his hand ready to take mine". Mark's expression of faith and hope and assurance is what sustains us all in our time of grief and loss.