It’s a fair question. Many people, if not most, have asked it. How does one come up with the answer?
Terminally ill patients have a chance to come to terms with death, then there are those for whom the end of life comes as a surprise, such as in Boston and Texas this week. Can we ever actually be prepared? It helps to think we have some control, and we question, is it time yet?
Life is short, or so we hear repeatedly. Who decides that? We cannot see the full length of a bridge when we are crossing it. Maybe life is long. Compared to most animals human life is extended multiple years. We need a frame of reference, something to compare in order to determine if life is short, or if that is a false perception.
Life certainly seems short when our children are suddenly grown and independent. If we look back at our accomplishments or regrets we may feel as if time stalled out. Our youth appears dim in memory, yet at the passing of our parents we wonder how they became so old.
Hometowns develop, familiar neighborhoods are reconstructed, high school reunions accommodate more gray heads. Tragic events feel almost immediately ten years ago and last week at the same time. To what can we hold up our eighty or so expected years and measure the truth of this matter?
When life hurts, and pain is so intense it holds us to our beds, it can seem as if time has stopped. As one step in any direction rams us against a wall, each day can feel like a dragged out fight. Boxed in with undesirable companions like suicidal thoughts, it can feel like we are held captive while life goes on for everyone else.
This is what has brought me to ask the question, “Is it time yet to die?” Even a minimal sense of eternity eventually brought time into focus. Life is short. Extremely short. Despite days, weeks, and years when it seems like forever, it is not even close.
What we experience here, we are promised in scripture, is nothing compared to the wonderful someday. It must be similar to watching children mature. To us, they will soon be adults. Looking at a boy or girl each year we exclaim, “How did you get so big?” To each other we nod knowingly, “They grow up so fast.”
To the children it looks to be a long stretch before they can be six, or sixteen, or twenty-one. In the same way, God sees we will soon be with him, while we struggle for each hour to be better than the last.
For the surrendered to Christ, there is promise. It is for eternity with him that I keep living, trying to submit to his timeline. This promise is offered to everyone. Accepting it makes this short life worthwhile, and the long years, courageous.
The days of man are like grass. He grows like a flower of the field. When the wind blows over it, it is gone. Its place will remember it no more. But the loving-kindness of the Lord is forever and forever on those who fear Him.
NOTE: I am not a trained or licensed mental health professional. I am not a doctor. I speak only from my experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.