In 2009 about six months after my diagnosis of cancer I found an online forum for ovarian cancer survivors. It was a God-send in terms of being a great support system. We discuss every aspect of our struggles with ovca. (One of our favorite subjects is how we deal with the ever-present battle against the constipation caused by chemo and other drugs...we have become experts in that matter...you probably don't want me to go any further with that topic. lol )
The forum is our support system and we explore and discuss many topics above and beyond treatment. Today, one of the members posed a question about dying. In essence, how is it that we who believe in Christ and heaven, struggle so hard to cling to this earthly life, enduring chemo, pain, loss, seeing death right there in front of us. How do we deal with that?
My response was that it is a natural thing of our physical bodies to cling to life. This life has been good. We want to continue living.
God intended for us to enjoy the joys of this life even while fighting the effects of the death that Adam brought into the world.
As believers in Christ, we recognize that "in Adam we die" and "in Christ we live".
1 Cor 15:22 (Amplified Bible)
"For just as [because of their union of nature] in Adam all people die, so also [by virtue of their union of nature] shall all in Christ be made alive. "
However, knowing that we live in Christ does not take away from our natural (and good) inclination to enjoy our earthly life. We have many joys here and we want to continue in the the love of family and friends, the (good) pleasures of life, the beauty of this earth. It is natural that we would have an inborn desire to continue life as we know it...although without cancer, of course.
As for our fear of death...yeah, I think of the "how" of it, and wonder at the how of it...will it be painful, etc. But I also believe when that time comes and if it is a long process, that hospice and good medical care during that time will make it as painless as possible and as peaceful as possible. But I think, too, that when we come to that state of "nearing death", that God puts it in us to be accepting of that. When our body becomes weary enough with disease or age, we won't mind laying it down for the last time.
As for the "unknownness" of what our afterlife will be like, well, we will not know fully until we get there what awaits us on the other side. Paul explained it to the Corinthians as rather like looking through a dirty window. We can see only dimly now. But then, when we arrive on the other side, we will see it all clearly and fully.
I Cor. 13:12 (Amplified Bible)
"For now we are looking in a mirror that gives only a dim (blurred) reflection [of reality as in a riddle or enigma], but then [when perfection comes] we shall see in reality and face to face! Now I know in part (imperfectly), but then I shall know and understand fully and clearly, even in the same manner as I have been fully and clearly known and understood [by God]."
Sometimes I look at this life as a grand journey...that I am part of the "story" of God and man. My part is very tiny, yet it is very important, and I need and, indeed, am obligated to God to live it well. And so, I do try to live life the way that God requires of me. I fail miserably as do we all. But I keep putting one foot forward, then the other. I keep moving forward.
The Apostle Paul likens life to a race...and nobody running a race skids to a stop at the finish line and says, "Whoa! I don't want to cross the finish line." No, instead the runner's desire is always to complete the race even if he has to crawl the last distance to the finish line. We're all running a race (walking through this life) and we all will get to the finish line. It's just that it is startling to get close and think...."Wow, the race is almost over!" Even without ovarian cancer, it is startling to become "old" and be nearing the end of our lives here on earth. Our grandparents must have been just as startled as we are. And their grandparents before them.
And while I cling to this life and love this life, I also look forward to seeing what is on the other side. I will no longer be looking through a dirty window. I will know fully.
This whole thing of "life" is fascinating, don't you think?