While many believers do tire of sin and self and this world and do long to depart and be with the Lord, the main way we should look at death and all that goes with it is with dislike, even disgust. As I see what happened to B. B. King, and is now happening to Daisy, it bothers me, it upsets me. It makes me long even more for the end of all things, so that tears, suffering, decay and death will be no more. An important picture of the unnaturalness of death and how we really should look at it comes in the life of Christ. I refer to John 11 and the death of Lazarus.
The older you get, the more the realities mentioned in my title become so very real. One thing you can count on: as you age, you will start to attend more funerals than weddings. I have known of many folks who were long-time friends or colleagues who are no longer walking on planet earth.
And of course I am feeling various aches and pains, and have been in and out of hospital more in the past few years than the rest of my life. That is the way things are in a fallen world. The entry of sin into the world has had some massive ramifications. Decay, death and dying – along with suffering, broken relationships, and alienation from God – are all part of this.
Two recent events have got me thinking about all this of late. One was seeing part of a documentary on television a few nights ago. I had actually seen parts of it early last year. Indeed, it had such an impact on me then that I penned a whole article on it. I refer to a 2018 documentary on the renowned American blues singer and guitarist, B. B. King (1925-2015).
What had really hit me was his final years, and how at one point he simply could no longer continue, even though he loved performing and that is what he had done for most of his life. As I wrote in that article:
It was indeed an amazing career. But one thing especially stood out for me as I watched the doco. As he got older things like dementia and Alzheimer’s started to take their toll. His last performance was on October 3, 2014 at a blues venue in Chicago.
It was a very sad and poignant moment. He was slow in getting out to the stage. When he did make it, he sat on a chair with his guitar on his lap. He sat there for a while, put the guitar pick to the strings, but could go no further. He had forgotten how to play!
After a few minutes a band member came over and said words to this effect: ‘It’s over B. B. This is the end. It’s time to go.’ Wow, what a way to finish an incredible career. He would not perform again in public. He continued to decline, and he died in May, 2015. billmuehlenberg.com/2020/01/01/its-not-just-what-you-do-but-who-you-are/
Seeing that again the other night had the same sad impact on me. Indeed, it was perhaps even more of an impact, because of another recent event. I refer to our beloved 15-year-old dog Daisy. She has just taken a turn for the worst. Sure, her eyesight and hearing have both been substantially failing over the last few years.
And for many months now she would stand and bark at us, especially after dinner. But it seems just overnight something new and more ominous has occurred. While she is now lying down and sleeping (finally), things have been quite different for the past 40 hours or so.
We had family members over here on Sunday night and she was basically her normal self. But ever since then she has changed a fair amount. For almost two days now she has hardly sat or laid down. She basically just stands around, and paces around.
She will just stand at the door, hoping to go out. If nothing happens, she starts barking. But when you let her out, she basically just stands there – maybe walking about a little. When you can coax her back in, she goes straight to the back door and repeats the whole process.
I fear she is going to fall over and maybe die from exhaustion and lack of sleep. We took her to the vet who said she does not seem to be in any physical pain. But she said she is getting doggie dementia. Yes, that is a thing. She said there is medicine one can get to try to deal with the dementia. We may need to get that and give it a go.
So it has been a stressful time for all of us – and a rather sleepless time for me as well. And now Daisy is up once again, standing by the front door. Here we go again. I mentioned all this as a prayer point on the social media (not Facebook, which I am still banned from). One gal replied quickly with these words:
So sorry to hear this. We are right there with you. Our little Ellie, aged 17 1/2 is our little dementia dog. She just wanders and wanders, gets caught under furniture and howls and howls in fright. She does not know us or our other dachshund, with whom she used to play and she is wasting away, even though she eats like a horse. It is very sad, but she seems happy and is in no pain and so we do not feel that we have any right to put her down. She is still a blessing. Prayers for peace for you all as you struggle through this time.
It is helpful to know that others are aware of this and dealing with it as well. I told her I would keep her and her dogs in prayer also. It is just so sad to see a dog you knew and loved for so long change so radically. So I am now wondering if soon enough Daisy will no longer recognise us and the other pets in our house.
Oh, and now Daisy has just laid down again, this time on a carpeted bedroom floor. The only times before she would lay down for very short intervals was on a hard wooden floor, near a drafty door. She must be exhausted. It has only been two days so far and I am exhausted! I am not sure who will wear out first: me or Daisy!
Sure, it is worse when human beings go through such deterioration and eventual death, but beloved pets can certainly become such close parts of the family. It is always sad to have to go through their demise. So I have been praying a lot, including this prayer: “Lord, give Daisy grace – and me too.”
The biblical understanding of death is a bit complex. On the one hand, suffering, decay and death are not the way God intended things to be. Death is unnatural and associated with sin. One day both will come to an end. What a glorious day that will be.
But on the other hand, the believer can actually relish death, as it means to be away from this sin-soaked world and with the Lord. That is why Paul could say in Philippians 1:22-24: “If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.”