A terminal illness is an illness that has no cure and in most cases the people affected only live for a short period of time. Diseases which might be included in this list of terminal illnesses are cancer, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), etc.
It is safe to say that nobody wants to die and that only a manic depressant or someone mentally sick will want to die. There are too many goodies in this world and nobody is happy to hear that he/she has a terminal disease.
But God call people back home everyday. As a matter of fact about one hundred and fifty thousand (150,000) to three hundred thousand (300,000) people are called home everyday. Some of these people are very old and some are even fetus in their mothers’ wombs lost through abortions or miscarriages. So, being called home is not something strange, new, or a punishment.
When diagnosed to be terminally ill, a believer should accept the challenge as a call home by God. The believer should try to confirm this by having the diagnosis done by at least two other doctors. Once the tests are conclusive and all the diagnosis confirm the same disease, the believer should then accept the result and the challenge.
In the olden days, God use to tell His prophets to take messages to people. For example, Prophet Isaiah was sent to inform King Hezekiah that he has a few days to live (Isaiah 38:1). “In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came unto him and said unto him, ‘Thus saith the LORD, set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live”. Jesus Christ, our LORD and Savior, as a human knew He had just a few days left to live as He approached the City of Jerusalem for the last time. He told His disciples what will happen in Jerusalem. He told them how He will be arrested, tried by the elders, sentenced to death, and hung on the cross. He also told them that this was the purpose for which He had come into this world. That through His crucifiction we will be saved and have victory over Satan, sin and death.
In the last few paragraphs, I have sort of defined what it means to be terminally ill and have shown through the Bible that it is a call to come back home. The next few paragraphs will be for showing how to deal with the call.
I have always believed that the Bible is the greatest book ever written. It is an infallible word of God written for the purpose of setting man straight with God. I have never come across a problem God and His word can not solve. The Bible is a dictionary, a book on astronomy, medicine, physics, and so on. Whenever I have a problem I always run to my Bible to see what God has to say and I am yet to be disappointed.
So, without wasting time, lets get into what a terminally ill person, especially a believer must do. As pointed out in earlier paragraphs, no one likes to die. We hate to leave our loved ones, or our belongings for which we have worked so hard, and we hate to leave all the funs this world has to offer.
For a non believer, the first thing to do is to seek God and make your peace with Him. They are lucky because if they seek God, they will find Him. God said through one of His prophets that “If you deligently seek Me, you will find Me”. (Matt. 7:7) He also said that “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise”. (Psalm 51:17). The unbeliever should not be afraid to come to God with his/her sins because we are all sinners. The Bible says (Romans 3:23) “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”. The unbeliever should pray for God’s forgiveness and God’s salvation which is given free of charge (by grace) (Eph. 2:8, 9) through believing that Christ Jesus had paid for all sins of those who believed in Him.
By this simple step, an unbeliever has become a believer but not necessarily a saved one. But don’t worry about that, leave it to the LORD. The Bible tells us salvation belongs to the LORD our God. Just keep believing.
A believer should make sure he/she is a true believer in God and Jesus Christ alone. The Bible tells us that there is no other name in heaven or on earth through which we can be saved except the name of Jesus (Acts 4:2). Make sure you have this fact straight.
The next thing the believer must do is what King Hezekiah did (Isaiah 38:2-3). He accepted the message but he did not give up. He took his case to the Almighty God because God has power over death. The Bible tells us, “Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed unto the LORD, and said, ‘Remember now, O Lord, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight.’ And Hezekiah wept sore”. This is what the believer must first do – take his/her case to God. Pray to God, tell Him what you want. If it is for more time ask Him, make your case, and give Him reasons why you need more time. Tell Him if your kids are too little and you need time to take care of them. God is a kind and merciful God. He will hear you. He said his hands are not too short to help us or His ears too heavy to listen ( ). He said if you ask you shall be given and if you knock it shall be opened unto you ( ). He made you many promises and He also said the world may pass away but His words will never return to Him void ( ). Remind Him of these promises in your prayer. End the prayer by saying, “Lord let thy will be done and not mine”. Repeat the prayer every time you pray to God and I am sure something positive will come out of this prayer. King Hezekiah was given fifteen more years. (Isaiah 38:4-5).
The believer should go on and enjoy every day to the glory of God. Do what you normally do if you can still do them. Be cheerful and enjoy the company of your family and friends. Be happy and encourage them to be cheerful too.
If you have been involved in God’s work, continue in it and if not get involved in one. Do charitable work too if you have the means. King Hezekiah spent the fifteen years God gave to him to the glory of God. He became involved in God’s work. He wrote many songs of praises and I believe some of the Psalms. He sponsored the rebuilding of God’s house and many other things.
A true believer need not fear death. The Bible tells us that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. ( ) A true believer has no cause to fear the wrath of God because his/her sins have been paid for by Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us (I Peter 2:24), “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree”. From Colossians 1:14, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins”. And from Isaiah 53:5,6 we read, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own ways; and the LORD hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all”. You see you should be happy – even happier than the people you are leaving behind. You are going to where they will come later if they believe. To live is Christ and to die is gain (Phil. 1:23).
And about heaven, I understand it’s a great place to be and its far better than the earth. In Revelation 2:27 we read, “And there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life”. And in Revelation 21:3,4 Apostle John said, “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He shall dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow; nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
You should go on believing God for comfort, miracle, relief, and companionship. Let your Bible reading, meditation and study continue if you can still do so. Remember that Apostle Paul read the parchment (part of the Bible) throughout the night of the day before he was executed. He kept being in touch with his Lord Jesus and I believe that angels ministered to his needs.
Don’t let your family destroy your faith by taking you to herbalists who will perform devilish treatments on you. I know of a very good Christian who fell seriously sick and when all failed was rushed to an herbalist or traditionalist who began to perform all kinds of ritual including the worship of demons to save her. At the end of three days of being there she died. Do you think she died saved or unsaved?
The Bible says if you have been doing bad and changed to be doing good including believing, you shall be judged as saved. On the other hand if you have been doing good and believing but changed to doing bad (unbelieving), you will be judged as unbelieving and a sinner.
Let us be strong even in sickness and stay faithful to the end. No one on earth can change what God has ordained.
God always love you in sickness or in health. Remain faithful to the end.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you and see you through. Amen.