Marcus was in the final stages of colon cancer. He was only fifty-seven, but his body looked like he was ninety. Marcus and his wife, Judy, knew that he didn’t have much time. She held Marcus’s hands and looked at him with the mature love of a woman married to her best friend.
Marcus’s body had begun the process of shutting down, but he was quite alert for his condition. He was neither angry nor afraid. Yes, he had moments of frustration and agony, and he despised the hospital and wanted to be home, but he complained little and loved much.
Marcus was more concerned with how his family dealt with his suffering and impending death than he was about his condition. He knew what was coming and it gave him peace. Death at the cruel hands of cancer would not be the end of his life. Death would be the beginning of the life of his dreams!
Finally free of his diseased and broken body, he would live forever as a whole and healthy man in a place free from sorrow and pain. I was privileged to witness the strength and confidence that eternity can give to a suffering man.
At his funeral, there were tears because Marcus would be missed. But the mourning was harmonized with celebration. I asked Judy how she was doing. She said, “I am going to miss Marcus more than I can express. I am sorry our daughters have lost their father so young. But I know this is not the end of Marcus’s life.”
Eternity kept Judy and her girls from the bitterness of feeling ripped off. Eternity gave them joy when there seemed to be no explanation for happiness. Eternity gave Marcus peace in the middle of distress. Marcus and his family did not feel helpless and alone because they looked at the worst moment in their life through the lens of eternity, and it changed everything.
Perhaps you are not like Marcus and his family. Maybe you are young, healthy, and full of energy. Or perhaps you’re not at the stage of contemplating death, but life in a fallen world has created pain and suffering for you in one way or another. Regardless of your circumstances, the promise of eternity is just as applicable for you as it was for Marcus and his family.
I love the words of the prophet Isaiah:
“Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.”
In a fallen world, we all are born thirsty and hungry, so instinctively, our life is driven by what we look for to satisfy us.
“Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
nd delight yourselves in rich food.”
Sadly, many of us who follow Christ are doing this day after day after day. In grace, God offers you freedom and a future—freedom from today’s pursuit of a self-focused and shortsighted life that leaves you empty and a future of pain-free joy.
Eternity not only provides us with future hope and life but with living hope and direction in the here and now. Marcus and his family embraced this. Will you allow his story to remind you of this promise once more today?
Paul David Tripp
1. What is the most painful loss you have experienced?
2. How does the Bible speak to that loss? Where can you find comfort in Christ?
3. Do you struggle with bitterness or feel “ripped off” by God in some way?
4. How does the promise of eternity give you hope today in the middle of a difficult circumstance? Be specific.
5. Who do you know who is sick or dying? How can you incarnate the love of Christ for them and their family? What can you do to serve their physical needs?