Sudden Death

Sudden Death

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Last week, actor James Gandolfini (The Sopranos) died suddenly at age 51 from a heart attack. It's an especially heart-wrenching story because it happened in front of his 13-year-old son Michael, in a hotel in Rome, where they'd been having a father-son vacation.

I can relate, up to a point. I wasn't a child when my dad died, but I was 19. A couple hours earlier, he drove me to a college class. I got a ride home and found he'd collapsed from a cerebral hemorrhage. He never woke up. There was no warning: At age 58, he was gone.

God can bring good from loss. From mine, he gave me clarity, maturity and resolve. My mom and I have been close ever since, whether I've lived in the same town (like now) or far away. We talk all the time: If anything, I tend to talk her ears off. Once in a while, she even gets a few words in. (Yes, I'm exaggerating. How much, you'd have to ask her.) For the past 32 years, we've treasured the time. Whenever it ends, we'll have no regrets about how it was spent.

When you're young, you don't really think that something like this might happen to your parents for a long time. You know it's possible, but it seems so remote. You have plenty of time.

Except maybe you don't.

Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit — yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." (James 4:13-15)

This isn't mainly a post about death. It's about life — life in the shadow of death. Even as you look toward eternal life through Christ, cherish the gift of life God gives you on earth, and the people He gives you to live it with. They really can be gone tomorrow. Don't learn that lesson the hard way.

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  • --While God certainly can bring good from loss, sometimes a loss is simply a loss.  When I lost my own father, I found platitudes infuriating.  I think we need to OK with life being bad, period; we need to be able to accept suffering with dignity.  

  • --Confession time: The idea that I could be dead tomorrow has always scared the ever loving daylights out of me. And don't even get me started on living in heaven *forever.*

  • --I think coming close to death really takes the fear of it out of you. I've talked to several other people who were in similar situations, and they generally agree. Part of what's so intimidating about death is that it's unknown. I don't know exactly what's on the other side of death, but I know that death itself isn't so scary.

  • --That said, losing friends and family doesn't hurt any less. Even if they're Christians, and I know we'll be spending eternity together, the pain is still very real.

  • --I recently made a boomerang move to a town where I know nobody, and I cannot even get an interview anywhere, no matter how hard I try. I don't even have any friends here, and all my attempts to find friends have failed. I often find myself hoping that death is near.

  • --@Dreamer Guy

    Steps you can take (other than reading the Bible and praying) to make thing better:

    1) Find a gym and start working out regularly. You'll get in better shape, feel better about yourself, and probably make gym friends.

    2) Use Crossroads Career Network to improve your resume and cover letters so you look like a more desirable candidate to companies.

    3) Start applying for jobs across the country. Monster, Indeed, Craigslist, etc. can put you in contact with all kinds of companies that are hiring, even if they are several states away.

    4) Pick a subject and use the internet to teach yourself to become an expert for free. When I was unemployed, I started reading about nutrition. I haven't spent a penny, but I got very well educated on the subject in less than a year.

    5) Find places to volunteer. I know first hand that doing nothing with your day is pretty depressing. Habitat for Humanity, a homeless shelter, or the Salvation Army could all use your help, and that's another way to meet more people. Churches are also always looking for volunteers. It doesn't take much skill to volunteer in the nursery on Sundays, and you'll be doing families a huge service.

    Take it from me. Sitting around while unemployed just gets more and more depressing. The more you do though, the more tolerable it is.

  • --I actually think about death most everyday, and the fact that we can be here today and gone tommorrow.  I'am a thinker, so I ponder many things most everyday.  I do think about how will it be? how will death feel like? will it be like falling asleep? will everything go dark, and then I will be before God in in instant?

    I sometimes wonder if really when we die, we do actually sleep as oppose to being before God instantly? what if we are wrong (meaning the traditional view) of being instantly before God at death?  Maybe we do go into a sleep? I ponder these things a lot, I don't feel the bible tell us clearly either way, I think you can read the new testament and it supports both positions.

    Any thoughts?

  • --I married a widower.  I know a large portion of the way he treats me (like a queen) and how he communicates every day with me is the result of him knowing how life can change in a minute.  His late wife died suddenly and without warning....some heart thing....they even did an autopsy because she had just had her physical and been deemed in excellent health.  Cherish life and cherish your loved ones.  

  • --GrinAndBarrett: "-I think coming close to death really takes the fear of it out of you."

    Actually, coming close to death was what put the fear into me. I spent a week sleeping in a hospice room, and that was when it all went from "death sucks" to "oh eff, what if the atheists are right and I never see her again?!" Added into that was a lot of "why suffering?!" which further complicated the matter. Two years later I still don't have as much of it sorted out as I would like.

    I've recently started studying iconography, and my favorite is always the Resurrection of Christ.

    (A few good ones: modeoflife.files.wordpress.com/.../holy-cross-justice-icon-of-the-resurrection.jpg

    www.orthodoxroad.com/.../resurrection2007.jpg

    iconreader.files.wordpress.com/.../resurrection2.jpg)

    There are no shiny angels, or glowing rock, or catatonic Romans, but Christ Himself, breaking down the doors of Hades, and yanking Adam and Eve out of their tombs, like a SWAT officer pulling out a hostage. That's what the resurrection is about. Not just the price paid for our ransom, but that the place we were ransomed to has been/will be, since we are still under the constraints of time, smashed to pieces. "The last enemy to be destroyed is death."

    Christ has risen from the dead

    Trampling down death by death

    And on those in the tombs bestowing life

    I tell you, the Orthodox have really got this figured out.

  • --Gladys123 - I always understood two distinct schools of thought on the 'what happens when we die' question.

    1) Instantly before Jesus

    OR

    2) Sleeping until the second coming, when the dead are raised from their sleep.  (On the last day they will be raised - John 6:40, John 6:54.)

    Traditionally, people tend to believe option 1 (and we gain a lot of comfort from imagining our loved ones are in Heaven already).  I also wonder about spirits and the feeling that someone is watching over you.

    However, I tend to believe Option 2.

    The big thing I struggle with, however, is the concept of reincarnation which I know is COMPLETELY un-Biblical.  However, I've had several experiences in my life where I know someone, or know many things about them, without having met them before.  Can someone help me explain this?  

  • --Kelli,

    I don't know, the new testament has too many references to "sleep", that makes me think that we do sleep until the resurrection.  The only thing is though, since we are outside of time at death, it will probably be like we just woke up as soon as we die.  I don't think we will feel like we are sleeping since, their will be no passage of time (at least that is how it will feel to us).  So I think it will probably be seemless to us, death and then the resurrection.  At least I hope it is.

    As far as re-incarnation, I really don't have an opinion on that, it is not biblical, so I would say not, but then again, I don't know all things, and God is a mystery in a lot of ways to us, so anything is possible with God is what i say.

  • "  However, I've had several experiences in my life where I know someone, or know many things about them, without having met them before.  Can someone help me explain this? "

    It may very well just be an instance of the Holy Spirit granting you such insight for some unknown (or known) purpose.  Some people do have the gift of supernatural prophesy (e.g. they know something about someone that could not otherwise be known or foretelling the future).  I would not fear it but accept the gift with grace and humility.

  • --MikeTime - thanks.  I think it is the Holy Spirit, giving me insights.  (I plan to research a whole lot more about supernatural prophesy because it would explain a lot.) I need to learn how to use that for God!

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