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Death, Be Not Proud

Dr. W.A. Criswell (1909-2002), long-time pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, was once traveling by airplane on a trip across the country to attend a speaking engagement and was thrilled to recognize the man in the seat beside him as a well-known Christian theologian. Criswell admired this man and wanted to strike up a conversation with him. After the plane left the ground and settled into cruising altitude he introduced himself and the two began to speak.

The theologian told the pastor how he had recently lost his four-year old son to a terrible illness. The child was sent home from school one day with a fever. At first the parents thought it was a typical childhood illness, but as the child’s condition continued to worsen they took him to the hospital. After the doctors ran a battery of tests they told the parents that their son had a virulent form of meningitis and that there was nothing they could do for him. The child was going to die.

The loving father did the only thing he could do, which was sit with his son in a death vigil. It was the middle of the day and the illness was causing the little boy’s vision began to fade. He looked up at his daddy and said softly, “Daddy, it’s getting dark, isn’t it?”

The professor replied, “Yes, son, it is dark. It is very dark.” And for the father it was very dark.

The little boy said, “I guess it’s time for me to get to sleep, isn’t it?”

“Yes son, it’s time for you to sleep,” said the father.

The theologian explained to Dr. Criswell how his son liked his pillow and his blankets arranged just so and how he put his head on his hands while he slept. He told how he helped the child fix his pillow and how his little boy rested his head on his hands and said. “Good night daddy. I’ll see you in the morning.” With that the little boy closed his eyes and breathed his last.

The professor stopped talking and looked out the window of the airplane for a good long time. Finally he turned to Dr Criswell and with his voice breaking and tears spilling onto his cheeks said, “I can hardly wait for morning to come!”

Though it may sound like merely the cry of a grief-stricken parent, the father’s words speak of far more. They speak of a profoundly beautiful truth. His words echo those of King David who, after his son died said, “I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” (2 Samuel 13:23) The father believed that life does not end with death – death is just the beginning! His words are an awesome statement of faith. He had faith to believe that Jesus’ words were true when he said, “I am the way, the truth and the life!” Only through Jesus can we have the hope of eternal life that sustains the grief-stricken father. Only through Jesus can we have assurance that he “will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.” (Revelation 21:4) God offers us this assurance if only we will believe in Him.

Do you believe in Him? Give God the opportunity to be real to you and to give you the faith to believe that there really is life beyond death.