Scripture Reading:

Philippians 1:20-26

I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far. . . .

Philippians 1:23

I cautiously entered her room; there the elderly patient lay, quilt tucked up near her chin. Silky white hair haloed her pale face, blending into the white pillow. She opened her eyes. A weak smile of recognition wrinkled her warm face.

As I sat near her bed, she lifted her hand from under the quilt for me to hold as we chatted. It was honest talk. We both knew it: she was nearing her death. I told her that I was sad that she was so weak and frail, that she was going to leave us soon. Through tears I said, “I am going to miss you.” Turning her face toward me, she responded weakly but clearly, “I won’t miss you, though.”

Was that a putdown? No, it was a deep expression of sincere faith. She believed what the apostle Paul wrote in our text for today: “to depart and be with Christ . . . is better by far.” She knew that when death came, she was going to be with the Lord. Her condition would then be far better than the weakness, dependence, sadness, and pain she presently experienced. For her to live was Christ, so for her to die would be gain.

With a warm heart I left her room. I had seen faith. I had seen strength in that very weak and frail child of God.

How good to belong to God, from whose love nothing can separate us! It’s true: what awaits us is better—yes, better by far.

Thank you, Lord, for the testimony of this child of yours. Make our faith strong as we live and as we die. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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