What to Do When Your Friend is Dying

I didn’t have an iPhone growing up. I didn’t have cloud storage either. I had no concept for what data rates were. My unlimited messaging plan consisted of how many notes I could pass in the hallway between classes. The world had yet to see the invention of a camera that could fit in my pocket, nonetheless, take endless photographs of my life without waiting to develop them.

Today, there is not a moment missed by the camera on my iPhone. My kid’s birthday party pictures. Check. Vacation to Texas. Check. Before and after landscape photos. Check. Tuesday night at a restaurant. Check. Picture of my meal at that restaurant. Check. 300 pictures of myself in front of a mirror. Check.

While even the most mundane moments of my life are now captured forever. The moments from my childhood were not. There are few if any visual reminders of the daily life I once lived. My past, like many others from my generation and the ones before it, is relegated to having to remember daily activities of our past and our cloud of memories can only store so many.

My iPhone today has been both the greatest tool of communication I own while also being the possession most likely to cause me to procrastinate or lose hours of my day to endless scrolling or coin collecting on a mindless game. When I was growing up, if I wanted to waste hours of my day I usually had to do so outside – where I would endlessly ride my bike up and down neighborhood streets without supervision and collect bruises from falls on said bike.

One major life bruise most of us will collect in life will be the loss of a friend, family member or someone dear to your life. 

For me, the recent passing of friends and family members from my camera less life are difficult to commemorate because I don’t have the photos or visual reminders of the sections of life we lived together.  My mind storage can’t download the long talks we once had or show me a picture of the days we just sat in a house together. I have found it increasingly difficult to remember the years of my youth and the moments that filled them.

How am I supposed to mourn or process loss without a memory of what I am losing?

If you are anything like me, and lack the physical evidence of memories of a lost loved one, the memories you do have become that much more valuable. They are the only evidence you have of the impact of that person’s life on yours. They are the only difference that now exists between yourself and a stranger in the lost loved one’s life.

What are you supposed to do when your friend is dying and the only thing you have are memories? What are you supposed to do if you haven’t seen that person in ten years but can now only remember the times you had together in order to treasure them? What do you do when all you thought you had was gone and our thin grasp on the memories of our past are fleeting?

Losing someone is tough. Losing someone forever is harder.  Your feelings of loss and pain compounded by the fact you only have sometime vague memories of the person that once held significant importance in your world. I believe this feeling is only a measure of what is like to learn that someone I love will not be spending eternity with me in Heaven.

Faith in Christ. Three easy words to say. Possibly the hardest words in the world to believe.

I found my faith in Christ after years of rejecting the advances of those that tried to talk to me about Him. I was prideful in my stance that I was going to Heaven anyway because I was a good person.  Everyone is good in their own mind. There are some who have committed terrible crimes that thought their actions were good or justified.

The standard of measure of what makes a person good is always up for debate. What is not up for debate is the issue of sin. The Bible says that all men have sinned and fallen short of the God’s standard (Romans 5:12). God also says that sin is only punishable by death (Romans 6:23). Therefore, your sin will cause you to die. Not physically, but spiritually. Every person born will die physically, but not all of us will die spiritually.

Did you know that God loves you and has a plan for your life?  If you died today, do you know where you would spend your spiritually eternity?

You may think, how can God love me if he set a standard I can’t reach and then told me I would die because of it? That would be a great question if God didn’t also create a solution to that problem.

Have you ever heard someone say, “Jesus died for your sins?” This phrase is the answer to why you can have spiritual life in Heaven even though you have sinned. Jesus lived a perfect life on Earth. Since Jesus did not sin, and therefore did not deserve to be punished by death, His resurrection created an opportunity for you and I to spend eternity in the presence of God and live the lives we were meant to have from the beginning – which is an abundant life in the presence of God surrounded by friends, family members and our brothers and sisters in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Jesus payed the debt for your sin, but like any debt you have, it still needs to be paid. If I gave you all the money to pay off your car loan but you didn’t give that money to the car dealership, you would still be in debt, even though I gave you all you needed to defeat that debt.

The Bible – which is the inerrant truth of God and the set the old and new covenant standards of living, tells us that if you want to fulfill the debt of sin that was paid by Jesus in your life you need to believe in your heart AND confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9). Jesus alone is the path to salvation – which is the erasing of your sin debt and the invitation to spiritually eternity in Heaven and access to the life you were meant to have.

Everyone will live forever spiritually, however, we decide where we will stay. The spiritual death we suffer is a loss of being in the presence of God.  If you reject Christ as Lord here on Earth, your life on Earth is the only Heaven you will ever experience. If you have faith in Christ, your life here on Earth is the only hell you will ever experience. 

If your friends reject Christ, but you do, your fading memories will be the extent of what you have with them eternally. If you share Christ with an unsaved friend you are opening a relationship door that will stay open forever even though that door on Earth will be closed for a brief time.

What would I do if my friend was dying? I would share the Gospel of Christ with them.

My memories of their life are not as valuable as their spiritual life. My grief today because I have lost them on Earth will pale in comparison to the sorrow of not having them beside me in Heaven. God is real. Jesus Saves. We all will have to make a choice. Death comes for some of us early, so your time to make a choice could be up soon.

John Simmons is the President of Testimony House Ministries. He writes a daily blog for Testimony House each week day. He is the author of God Has a Sentence for Your Life and Finding Faith. Follow John on social media @newjohnsimmons. You can also watch John hosts various live streaming programs on the Testimony House Network each week.