A few days ago, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez died after a long struggle with cancer. According to Gen. Jose Ornella, the Chief of the Presidential guard, the President’s last words were: “I don’t want to die. Please don’t let me die…” words of despair and helplessness.
That detail about Mr. Chavez’s caught my attention, because a few days earlier I was thinking about “Famous Last Words”. Researching internet, I found some were interesting, some were cynical, and others very straightforward. Here’s a sample of what we can read on www.mapping.com:
Lady Nancy Astor (1879-1964) “Jakie, is it my birthday or am I dying?” (Seeing all her children assembled at her bedside in her last illness.)
Louis XIV (1638-1715) “Why are you weeping? Did you imagine that I was immortal?” (Noticing as he lay on his deathbed that his attendants were crying.)
Elvis Presley (1935-1977) “I hope I haven’t bored you.” (Concluding what would be his last press conference.)
George Washington (1732-1799) “It is well, I die hard, but I am not afraid to go.”
We can also find the last words of men of faith in the Bible. Let’s look at three of them: Joseph, Moses and Joshua.
Joseph proclaimed the certainty of God’s faithfulness in the future. Joseph knew that God was always with him, and he never stopped believing in the promise that God made generations earlier to his forefathers. In Genesis 50:24 we read: “And Joseph said to his brethren, “I am dying; but God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.”
Moses gave words of blessing and assurance. Moses personally experienced God’s eternal arms holding him up throughout his lifetime, and often saw God fight the enemy for His people. In Deuteronomy 33:27, after Moses blessed the children of Israel on his deathbed, he assured them that “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. He will thrust out the enemy from before you.”
Joshua reminded the people of God’s faithfulness in the past. Joshua experienced it all: the miracles, the journey across the wilderness, the giants, victories in battle, and the Promised Land. Knowing his time was short, he reminded his people of God’s faithfulness in the past. In Joshua 23:14 we read: “Behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth. And you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one thing has failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spoke concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one word of them has failed.”
We’ll all have last words one day. Will they be words of despair and helplessness? Expressions of regret? Will they be words of blessing and assurance? How we live our lives now determines what our very last thoughts and words will be. The last verse of “Bless the Lord” (10,000 Reasons) by Matt Redman reflects my desire to praise God, even to my last breath! Please take time to listen to it and make it your prayer, too!