No man's social status, financial status, achievements, influence, or opportunities in life separate him from the human experience of dying.
The man was a man of renowned status. He held a prominent place in society and was honored among men; set upon a pedestal. He had respect, influence and opportunity to make a difference in history, but he was sick. His body was inflamed with sores, so he sought healing.
The man was rich and could pay whatever it cost for his health to be restored. Health became more important than wealth. When you are sick you will invest whatever it takes to get well. Sickness can gnaw at the human spirit and torment the mind. It can steal your opportunities to do and become. As a Hospice Chaplain, I have seen people so sick that death would have been a welcomed alternative. As one who has never experienced debilitating illness or a near-death experience, I never will forget the mind-stunning question posed to me by a late patient before his suffering body eventually submitted to its fate, "Why can't I die?"
The demands of his care caused him to feel he was a burden to others. He sought diligently for a cure. I want to stress again, that he was a big man; a renowned man, a great man, but somehow being famous did not excuse him from this awful condition. For death comes to all of mankind regardless of their status or stature. Most people will pass through the sick bed and battle the forces of disease - suffer and die. (Did you know that Americans are living with chronic degenerative disease for an average of 20 years before we die?)
What lessons can we pull from this meditation?
1) No man's social status, financial status, achievements, influence, or opportunities in life separate him from the human experience of dying. So, don't be intimidated by "big men" (or women). Life comes to an end for all humans and equalizes us before our Maker in this way.
2) Our genetics, the toxicity of the environment in which we live, our health-building choices (or lack thereof!) can all affect the way we die. So make a conscious effort to do the very best you can with what you have been given. Make choices that will reduce your chances of a long drawn out disease. Think now about what your choices are doing to your health. Think also about how your poor health will affect the lives of your loved ones as they pause their dreams and goals to care for you.
3) Think about the lost potential, pain, and suffering you will experience instead of abundant living.
Make your adjustments NOW. Get out into fresh air and sunshine. Exercise. Connect with loved ones. Go deeper in relationships. Do those things you have put off year after year; the things that have meaning and long-term value rather than short-term pleasure. And most importantly, make that decision to explore and enter into your spiritual birth and maturing in your relationship with your Creator, Heavenly Father, and Savior. Now is the time. Don't wait. Everyone can be a blessing and an influencer in these ways, famous or not so famous.
John T. Catrett, III serves as a Chaplain with ONHL Hospice. ONHL Hospice currently provides services to the majority of Northeastern Oklahoma but is available to accept patients statewide. Learn more at http://onhlhospice.com.