Contributing Writer: Aaron Hedges, Inheritance of Hope Technology & Talent Director

Disease.  Every family Inheritance of Hope serves knows disease.  It has become not just part of their family, it threatens to take over, and in some cases it has in fact taken over.  Disease, particularly disease that is considered life-threatening, is life-changing and family-changing not just because of the physical pain it involves, nor just because of the strain it places on routines, finances, and relationships, but above all because it raises the specter of death.  Whatever else disease may involve, it brings awareness of death – of the limits of a person’s life – and the awareness of death makes us uneasy.  It gives us discomfort.  It gives us dis-ease.
The dis-ease of death strikes us all.  Most of us have become rather skilled at neglecting or even intentionally avoiding death in our active thinking and living.  Precisely because it is so discomforting, we try our best not to deal with it.  Yet death is unavoidable.  Whether by a disease that leads to death or other reminders, the dis-ease of death must sooner or later be addressed.

Why does death make us so dis-eased?  What is it about death that makes us avoid it at every turn even though we know that we cannot finally put it off?  It cannot be the simple fact of death, particularly not our own death.  If somehow we could just die – go through life without any anticipation of death – then death would not be so fearful, so dis-easing; it would just happen without ever affecting our consciousness.  

But of course this is not our experience.  Before the moment of death arrives, the awareness of death threatens us and strikes us with the pain of anticipated loss, both of ourselves and our loved ones.  Perhaps death in and of itself is not so painful, but waiting for it, knowing that it is coming for us, is burdensome.  The onset of death limits our remaining expectations, and the arrival of death ends them.  Death takes our dreams, our plans, our futures.

In short, the dis-ease of death takes our hope.

Death does not have to crush hope, however.  By taking full account of reality, including the reality of death, we can glimpse a hope that is even more persistent than death.  There is a hope that does not have to shy away from death but can look it squarely in the eye, incorporate it, and prove to be the greater reality.  Because such hope is reliable (even more reliable than death), that is to say faithful, it elicits faith.

We all have faith in death; we know it is real.  We have the opportunity for greater faith in the greater reality of hope.