A Severe Mercy

One of my dearest friends and coworkers passed away ten days ago.

Gary Brook had been fighting a respiratory illness for nearly a decade but had finally been approved for a lung transplant in Seattle, Washington.

Just hours before his death, he and I had been planning the drive to Seattle. Gary was going through one oxygen tank every hour, so we were going to load the car with cylinders and then stop several times to replenish them during our fifteen-hour drive.

Once we arrived, Gary and his wife, Nancy, would have been living in a motel or in someone else’s home for weeks or months as they waited for the transplant … which could only occur after someone else had died.

The surgery would have been traumatic and the recovery painful. If he survived it, he would have then faced the daily risk of rejection and frequent, expensive and stressful trips back to Seattle.

We both wondered if he would make it through such an ordeal. Although he was more than ready to meet his Savior, he was determined to attempt the the trip and the surgery in the hope of remaining alive for a few more years to love, enjoy and provide for Nancy.

Shortly after our conversation that morning, however, God, speaking through providence and the promises of Scripture, overruled our plans.

“No more suffering for my beloved servant. I have a far better plan.”

“No long, interrupted journey or borrowed home. I will instantly transport Gary in perfect peace and comfort to a mansion that has been prepared from him before the foundations of the world.”

“There will be no waiting for someone to die and sacrifice his lungs, for my Son has already died and made the supreme sacrifice, securing not only a new set of lungs for Gary but an entirely new and perfect body designed for eternity.”

“There will be no more trauma or pain, only peace, comfort and joy.”

“Nor is there any chance of rejection, not the slightest possibility, for Gary’s healing has been perfected and guaranteed by the very blood of Christ.”

“When he joins me in paradise and draws his first deep breath of heaven’s pure air into his glorified lungs, he will exhale with the most joyful and exuberant words of his existence as he enters into eternal worship, praise and fellowship with me, knowing that I will be looking out for his lovely wife until the day I bring her home as well.”

Death is always a severe experience, but for those who trust in Jesus, it is also a mercy. It releases us from the suffering of this world and transports us into the presence of God, where there is “fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11).

So although I miss Gary greatly, as do all who knew him, we have the hope of a grand reunion because of our shared faith in Christ and the promise of eternal life that he secured for each of us through his perfect life, death and resurrection.

~ Ken Sande

Reflection Questions

  1. How do people you know who do not trust in Christ typically view death? How does that affect their view of life?
  2. What promises in the Bible are the most comforting and encouraging to you when you think of death?
  3. How can the death of a friend or coworker open a door to share the gospel with other friends or coworkers?

Permission to distribute: Please feel free to download, print, or electronically share this message in its entirety for non-commercial purposes with as many people as you like.

© 2018 Ken Sande

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