My Non-Christian Friend and His Dying Dad

Watching how people handle illnesses, death, or any crisis for that matter has always been something I found fascinating. It’s also interesting to me to see people that are followers of Christ handle these things as opposed to an atheist, for example. In my opinion, it comes down to faith in God and trusting in Him to handle and take care of things when they seem to be spinning out of control.

In my experience, it isn’t always the Christian that handles things the way I would have thought nor is it the non-believer who does it the way I would expect. Some rise to the challenge of a crisis while others spiral downward out of control.

I recently had the blessing of watching a good friend of mine handle the passing of his father. I know that sounds strange to say it was a blessing, but to see how he handled the situation, it truly was a privilege to see and I feel truly blessed to have witnessed it.

My friend is not a Christian. We have had many good discussions on faith and I believe that he is open to many different possibilities of what the supreme power might be. He is also very consistent with respecting other people’s beliefs even if they are different than his own. That is refreshing to see because it doesn’t seem very common these days.

My friend’s dad, who was in his mid 70’s, I believe, got diagnosed about 9 years ago with cancer. He went through some treatments and everything was fine for a long time. Recently, the cancer came back with a vengeance and the prognosis was not good. How much treatment do you give to a mid 70-year old man whose health is not all that great to begin with? The answer is not a given one and each person might answer it differently.

In between doctors’ appointments, his dad had gotten admitted back into the hospital. In my experience, seeing people pass away from cancer isn’t always peaceful nor is it pretty. Sometimes death can be filled with back and forth hospital stays and round-the-clock care. Everyone knew this wasn’t a good sign. This is where I got to see my friend and his wife really show their true colors.

My friend and his wife knew that his mom would not be able to care for his dad at their house alone and the house my friend lived in would be too far for all the doctors’ visits coming up. My friend, knowing that he was the only one of his family without small kids at home, made an incredible decision with his wife. They were going to move in with his parents to help out. They were even going to have his wife quit her job to help out while he was at his job.

It turned out that my friend’s dad passed away shortly after returning home. My friend was there with him and they really had a chance to talk before he passed away. I’m hoping that helped ease the pain of his passing a little.

Witnessing my friend and his wife handle this situation was incredible. They had no idea how long it would be before he passed away. They never considered putting him in a nursing home to have someone else take care of him. They saw an opportunity where something needed to be done and they did it without any complaints or whining.

I really believe the Lord was with them in this situation. I mean, isn’t that what faith is all about? Stepping out into a situation where you don’t know the outcome, how long it will last, and putting someone else’s needs ahead of our own?

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

For someone who doesn’t claim to be a Christian, he certainly stepped up to do something the same way Jesus would want all of us to. I’m sure my friend is still grieving the loss of his father. We have him and his family’s name on our prayer board so they can find comfort through this hard time. I’m honored to call him my friend. The way he handled his dad’s illness and passing was very “Christ-like” and that is inspiring to this Christian for sure. It should be inspiring to all of us, whatever our faith may be.

Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”


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