A Dying Friend’s Lesson in Life

Alexander WhyteTwo years ago, I had just gotten off the phone with a brother in Christ who was a stage 4 colon cancer patient living on miracle time. He was a man learning how to pour out his heart to God (Ps. 62:8). He was also an inspiration and one week later I interviewed him in our services so that our congregation could both celebrate with him what he is learning in this season of sorrow mixed with surprising joys. Today, I pastor a different church with the same earth-sick maladies and I thought of him while re-reading an old and yellowed, almost 100-year-old book out of my personal library. 

Alexander Whyte, a preacher from the late nineteenth century, was one of the best expositors of his generation. I have long benefited not only from his wisdom but his craft with words. In a sermon titled, “THE HEART OF MAN AND THE HEART OF GOD” he has an extended exposition of Psalm 62:8. The quote below got my attention.

Psalm 62:8 (ESV)

Trust in him at all times, O people;
.       pour out your heart before him;
.  God is a refuge for us.                        Selah

“Whatever else we have or have not, we all have hearts; and all our hearts are of the same secret, solitary, undiscovered, unsatisfied kind. And then, along with our hearts, we all have God. Wherever in all the world there is a human heart, God is there. And He is there in order to have that heart poured out before Him. And out of that, out of the aloneness of human heart, and out of the nearness of God to every human heart, there immediately arises this supreme duty to every man who has a heart,—that he shall at all times pour his heart out before God. . . It is every man’s duty, and every man’s privilege.”

Alexander Whyte, Lord, Teach Us to Pray, 28-29.

What does it mean to pour out your heart? Dr. Whyte tells us:

“Only let us pour out all our loneliness and all our distress, and all our gloom, before God, as David did, and all will immediately be well. For either, He will remove our trouble at once and altogether; or else, He will do better,— make His love and His peace so to fill our heart that we will break out with David and will sing:

‘In God is my salvation and my glory;
        the rock of my strength and my refuge is in God [Ps. 62:7].'”  (p. 30)

My brother in Christ got both the “either” of that quote and “the better”. He got the peace and presence of Christ. And today, he enjoys the better in Christ as he is now with the Christ he loved. And in the process, living the way he did he did more than teach me/us how to die in Christ. He is taught us how to live.

The Apostle Paul put it this way:

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me;
and I do not know which to choose.
But I am hard-pressed from both directions,
having the desire to depart and be with Christ,
for that is very much better;

yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.   

(Philippians 1:21-24, NASB)

Updated rewrite of a post from May 2015.

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