Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven, But Nobody Wants to Die...

I’ve mentioned before that I have a 20-year-old cousin, Brad, who has this crazy super-aggressive cancer. I’d asked those of you who pray to God to please pray for him and the family. Well, Brad is now cancer-free… in heaven.

Brad’s story is incredible, and I’m very proud to call him family. I’m disappointed that I did not have the chance to get to really know him over the past year of his life. At his funeral yesterday, it was said that he was the kind of guy you immediately wanted to be friends with, and there was just something about him that made everyone like him.

Over the past year or so, Brad was in and out of the hospital, had tumors removed, had a lung removed, had brain surgery, had Chemo therapy, was on a ventilator, got very sick, lost a bunch of weight (even though he was super skinny to begin with), gained a bit back, lost his hair, was in physical pain, watched his family weep over him, etc. He’d beat the cancer only for it to come back in a different place in his body. Even though he was going through all of this, Brad never asked Why me?

Why Brad? Why did someone so loved have to go through so much suffering? Why was he able to keep a positive attitude? One reason: Jesus Christ.

Brad gained a relationship with Jesus through his experience with cancer. Not only did he gain eternal life, but he also was able to share with others on a personal, regional, national and international level because of his pain and suffering.

You see, Brad was the bass player in a rock band called Close to Home. He had (and still has) fans all over. Whenever he was interviewed for a news story, he’d talk of his faith. He’d get phone calls and emails, and this struggle with cancer provided him with a venue to share his faith. He was able to share the reason for the hope that lies within him because he so obviously had a hope that was in him throughout such a terrible situation! People who otherwise might not have heard (or listened to) the gospel of Jesus Christ did listen because of Brad.

Yesterday at Brad’s funeral, Christ was proclaimed at a packed-out funeral home. Family friends and fans came from all over to say goodbye to Brad, but as they were doing so, they were also made aware of the reality of heaven and hell and were encouraged to pursue a relationship with Jesus Christ as Brad did.

I think that Brad was able to have joy during his time of suffering because he truly believed the apostle Paul when he said that to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

I have full confidence that Brad has fulfilled his purpose here on earth; otherwise God would not have taken him. Of course I wish he did not have to go through what he did, but had he not, who knows if he’d ever had gained eternal life? And had he not gained a relationship with the most high God, would all of those he talked to or those who came to his funeral had heard the gospel? Of course it was just awful seeing how sad everyone was for the loss of my cousin, and I was very sad and cried too, but I know that all his pain and suffering was not in vain.

Because my cousin had placed his faith in Jesus Christ during his life, God will wipe away every tear from Brad’s eyes, and death shall be no more. Brad won’t mourn or cry or have any pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

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