My Surgery: Preparing to Meet Death
By: ‘Biodun Shotola
I implore my esteemed readers to bear in mind, first and foremost, that the article upon which you are about to set your mind is not a novelty. I will not deceive myself for a moment to imagine that I am the first person to undergo a truly difficult situation. It has been precisely one year since I underwent an appendectomy; I remember the incident vividly, and here I am putting quill to parchment. Reader, you can rest assured that I will not waste space with unnecessary details that will only bore you. If I could summarize this article in one sentence, it would be this: “One Must Be Prepared to Face Death.”
To me, the surgery resembled a Memento Mori. I may fail to convince you of the exact number of other individuals who, like Enochs and Elijahs, will not experience death, but I can guarantee that death awaits most of us. There is no doubt about it, and there is no need to mince words. Unless the Lord delays, we will all die. However, not many can boldly declare, like the inspired Apostle, that “to die is gain.” Many recoil at the thought of death, while others are indifferent to the idea. “Let death come,” they say, “we will deal with what comes after.” Such imagination or fancy is a sure recipe for doom.
I do not speak as one lacking factual knowledge, for the truth is not elusive. A visit to the nearest Pentecostal or charismatic church will prove my point. There is hardly a prayer session where the prayer to avert death is not raised. The issue is not so much about the prayer itself, but rather the underlying fear that accompanies it. Upon careful examination, one would quickly realize that most prayers and sermons about death, particularly in this region, are arranged in such a way that the person praying is afraid to die. Reader, I am not asking you to seek death or embark on a quest to die. Instead, I aim to make a feeble effort to prepare you, so that when death comes knocking, you will have hope. I have never prayed or wished for death myself, and I will not encourage my readers to do so.
When I entered the operating theater last year, I had no fear of death. However, in this world, to borrow the words of William E. Sangster, there are tears in things. I knew there could be complications that might claim my life. I was strong, agile, and confident that should complications arise, I would pass away and see the Lord. Some claim that an appendectomy is a simple procedure. I do not disagree, but I wonder how simple it feels for the person lying under the surgeon’s blade. To those who have undergone multiple surgeries and to the surgeons themselves, an appendectomy might be a straightforward procedure. However, it became a significant matter when I was asked to sign an agreement form. The message was clear and concise: if I were to die during the procedure, the hospital would not be held responsible for my death.
Hear me, virtuous reader, as I echo the words of the Apostle Paul once more: “To die is gain.” Can you utter the same? I have been informed of numerous individuals who devote themselves to charms that purportedly ward off death. It is my wish that someone of such disposition will peruse this article and find liberation from the fear of death. Likewise, I am acquainted with men who boast of abstaining from medicinal remedies for their ailments over an extended period. While I commend their faith, I censure their folly. God has bestowed upon us herbs to heal diseases. It is a foolish faith that rejects aid when it is readily available.
Thus, dear reader, we have arrived at this profound juncture. You prepare yourself for the eternal slumber by placing your trust in the Lord Jesus. “Ah!” exclaims one, “Is that all we must do?” To this, I affirm that it is indeed all that is required of you. Having embraced this belief, the benevolent Lord shall send forth His precious Holy Spirit to continuously assure you of your inheritance and salvation, thereby subjugating death beneath your feet.
Our trepidation of death stems from uncertainties regarding the hereafter. Simply have faith in the Lord Jesus. Direct your gaze solely upon Him to dispel the fear of death. Fix your eyes upon Him who promises a death that yields great profit. “But,” interjects another, “what about those who do not believe in Jesus Christ, or anything at all, yet are prepared to face death?” I do not refute that such individuals exist—those who believe they possess mastery over the realm beyond. They deceive themselves and remain ignorant of their actions. Although they may be prepared to meet their demise, death shall not yield gain for them. I implore you, virtuous reader, not to be swayed or deceived by the false facade of the ungodly who condescendingly expound upon the afterlife.
1 Corinthians 15:54-57 – “So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?’ The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
(‘Biodun Shotola is a member of Providence Reformed Baptist Church, Ibadan. He is also a guest writer with Text and Publishing. He sends this piece from Ibadan).