Ars Moriendi: The Art of Dying

With all the bad news in the world this sentiment is understandable. Who wants to bring more bad news? While God does not command us to share a diagnosis nor our suffering with others, Paul says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Cor. 1:3–4).

Paul assumes that we would share our sufferings with one another so that we may comfort each another. The baptized children of God have the joy and privilege to walk alongside one another “knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rom. 5:3–5).

We share our challenges and difficult times with one another so we may pray and encourage one another in the resurrection of Christ Jesus. We can speak forgiveness to one another and pray for one another. Would you also not want to know if a dear friend or family member was suffering so you could attend to them and pray for them?

When you share your sufferings with your children, it gives them the opportunity to obey the Fourth Commandment in showing honor to your office as parent. When they can walk with you through your suffering, they honor God by serving you. Your fellow brothers and sisters in the faith are able to obey the Fifth Commandment by helping and serving you in your bodily needs.

Praying for and sacrificing for one another does not hinder our faith but teaches us to forsake ourselves and trust in Christ all the more. Consider the promises of God involving prayer: “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us” (1 John 5:14). He is with you and promises “the Spirit helps us in our weakness” (Rom. 8:26).

Whether or not you share your diagnosis or suffering with others does not change the fact that Christ Jesus has died for your sins and been raised for your justification. Your suffering does not invalidate your salvation but St. Paul writes, “this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17).

So whether we suffer or prosper, our Lord has given us the joy of doing all things by his strength. Sometimes it takes a lot of strength to share in our sufferings. God has given us each other for this purpose, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.” … But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” (1 Cor. 12:12; 24-27)

See you Sunday,
Pastor Ottmers