Living and Dying Well

Current events have many of us thinking about life and death.  Whether it be the brutal murder of innocent civilians in Iraq, the downing of a civilian jetliner in Ukraine, or the apparent suicide of a world-class comedian; it is natural and perhaps even scary to reflect on the issue of our own mortality.

That is why I am glad that in the providence of God, our church family was able to experience the recent death of one of our longtime members, Mr. Jack Viol.  Jack celebrated his 100th birthday a few months ago and even though he often said that he was “ready to go home,” he trusted the God of heaven for the timing.  He was a joyful man even though his life was riddled with painful events like caring for two wives who preceded him in death.  Jack cared for his wife Fern on a daily basis even though she struggled with the ravaging effects of Alzheimer’s for 6 long years.

Mr. Viol was a graduate of Harvard Business School, class of 1937.  He explained his view of eternity on the occasion of his class’s 50th reunion.  In an update he was asked to provide his classmates prior to the event, he explained his philosophy of life and death:

The Bible says in Psalm 90:10a, ‘The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years…’  Almost all of the Class of 1937 will be in the privileged group reaching 80.  ‘Don’t complain about growing old; many are denied the opportunity’ but the opportunity for eternal life depends upon a clear mind, an understanding of God’s Word and an application of it to your own life through your acceptance of God’s Son as your own personal Savior and Lord.”

Then Jack went on to challenge his classmates with these sobering words;

Don’t be complacent.  Psalm 14:1a tells us. ‘The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God’ and Jesus Himself said in Mark 8:36 ‘For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul.’”

Those who knew Jack often enjoyed his clever, witty side.  If there ever was a funny accountant, Jack Viol was him.  But he chose to ground his life on specific truth from the Word of God and he looked for opportunities to share his view of life and death with others.  Jack’s life was not easy but his personal relationship with Jesus helped him overcome his emotional struggles.  And when God’s timing was right, Jack Viol went home to heaven not because of his own works but because of his faith in the shed blood of Christ.  The Lord allowed him to live a full life and to die, very, very well.

Steve Viars
Dr. Viars has served as a pastor and counselor at Faith since 1987. He is an author, national speaker, and Vice President of the Board of Directors for the Biblical Counseling Coalition.