A friend of mine is dying. As I held his hand last night, I prayed.
I prayed for mercy, That he would not suffer terrible pain but live out his swan song in comfort. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love (Psalm 103:8). I prayed she would find comfort in her Father.
I prayed with peace, knowing that, for all of his life, he has walked with his God, who has been faithful to him and will not abandon him in these final hours. It is the Lord who goes before you. He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. (Deuteronomy 31:8, ESV). And again “…though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.Your rod and your staff they comfort me” (Psalm 23)
I prayed with thanksgiving, for he has lived a faithful life, full and devoted to the Lord, complete in sacrifice and service for his God and his fellow man. I know these words the Father will say to him as he enters the gates, “Well done good and faithful servant…Enter into the joy of your master” ( Matthew 25:23, ESV).
An ambulance is wailing in the distance, but for my friend, angels are singing songs of heaven as they wait to receive his soul. And here on earth, these words bring great comfort:
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty,
the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy
health and salvation!
All ye who hear,
Now to His temple draw near;
Sing now in glad adoration!
Praise to the Lord, who o’er all
things so wondrously reigneth,
Who, as on wings of an eagle,
Hast thou not seen
How thy desires all have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?
Praise to the Lord, who hath fearfully,
wondrously, made thee!
Health hath vouchsafed and, when
heedlessly falling, hath stayed thee.
What need or grief
Ever hath failed of relief?
Wings of His mercy did shade thee.
Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper
thy work and defend thee,
Who from the heavens the streams of
His mercy doth send thee.
What the Almighty can do,
Who with His love doth befriend thee.
Praise to the Lord! Oh, let all that
is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come
now with praises before Him!
Let the Amen
Sound from His people again;
Gladly for aye we adore Him.
Catherine Winkworth, 1863