The head of Venezuela’s presidential guard was with Hugo Chávez during his final moments. His report on Chávez’s last words paints a picture of a man desperately clinging to life. According to this report, Chávez said:
I don’t want to die. Please don’t let me die.
As a rule, I’m no fan of socialist dictators—particularly those of Chávez’s ilk. But this strikes me as one of the saddest things I’ve ever read. I grieve to think about what the horror of his final moments must have been like. Death is no respecter of persons—not even of billionaire Presidents who command a cult-like following among their countrymen. Not even of you. As the old hymn has it, “Time like an ever-flowing stream bears all its sons away.” None of us will escape this great equalizer.
But the great question we all have to ask ourselves is this: Will we be ready? Will our last words exhibit the desperation of a person who knows that it is all slipping away? Of a person who has the foreboding sense that something more terrible than he can imagine waits just on the other side? Or will our final words reflect the confidence that Christ has defeated the final enemy (1 Cor. 15:26)? The confidence that whoever trusts in Jesus Christ will live even if he dies (John 11:25)?
If the moment of your demise were descending upon you and you could see it coming as Chávez could, what would you say? That is the great question of your life. It’s the great question of every person’s life.
10 As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years,
Or if due to strength, eighty years,
Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow;
For soon it is gone and we fly away.
11 Who understands the power of Thine anger,
And Thy fury, according to the fear that is due Thee?
12 So teach us to number our days,
That we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom.