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Interesting question, don’t you think? Yet this is a question with which Bev and I often wrestle. For those who are afflicted with a disease or a sickness that drags on and on with little or no hope of cure or healing, the question is even more relevant.

In our case, for the disease that Bev has (Motor Neurone Disease), there is no cure, no surgery, no medication; just the drawn out process of slow deterioration and the hope (prayer?) that death might come quickly.

“Why does it take so long to die?”

I don’t know. I can speculate. But I don’t know.

Some time back we found ourselves reflecting on this question “How do you want to die?”(We are not really a family obsessed with death and dying!!). We are a couple who, by force of circumstances, are faced with issues that won’t allow us to avoid such situations.

Anyhow, back to the second question, “How do you want to die?” We both arrived at much the same answer:

  1. Neither of us wanted to experience an “instant” death. A sudden, fatal heart attack….or killed instantly in a motor accident. While there are those who would welcome such a quick exit, we felt that such a departure would leave behind a grieving company of people who had no opportunity for closure.


  2. On the other hand, neither of us wanted to hang around this world longer than was necessary for the Will of God to be completed in our earthly lives. But why the pain, confusion, heartache, for those who (seemingly) have no earthly purpose given that their physical inability has rendered them “useless” – their word, not mine. I have often encountered elderly people who have served the Lord with distinction but now they quietly waste away wondering if God will ever call them home. “Why does it take so long to die?”


  1. Both questions are, of course, subject to the sovereign will of God. But in some ways that conviction raises another question: Why does God sometimes take those who are ‘effective’ and retain many who are ‘useless’? If God is sovereign, why does He not take action to remedy that contradiction. First, He allows people who long to go to be with Him in heaven to remain here for no obvious reason.  Second, why does He take some who seem to be in their prime of life, usefulness and effectiveness? A Pastor friend of mine was discovered to have an inoperable brain tumour. He was in a wonderful season of ministry and the Lord’s blessing was so evident in his life. Then came the first of a series of foreboding diagnoses followed by a rapid decline in health and (from our point of view) his untimely death.


  2. I think by now you will realise that I don’t have any satisfying answers to these perplexing questions. Yet integrity demands that we must at least ask the questions.


    However, we can say this about our own “death preference”; we both asked for time to say “Goodbye” to each other, to our children and to those “significant others” who played a major role in our lives.


    That time for goodbyes has been granted )in Bev’s case) and we have been sharing in“Goodbye” mode in recent weeks. One family friend asked us if we would share with them and the many readers of “Barnabas” just how we went about that process. I’d like to do that in the next session.


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