Living With a Death Sentence


“The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.”

Acts 16:22-25

Paul and Silas were not the only ones living with a death sentence.

Steve was diagnosed with spinal cancer eleven years ago. He has endured five surgeries to try and remove as much of the tumor as possible without completely severing the nerves in his spine. After each surgery he has had to learn to walk again. He’s had numerous rounds of  radiation; in fact he has had so much that he can never have radiation again. His type of cancer does not respond to chemotherapy so that was never an option.

I have visited him in physical therapy and watched the excruciating pain on his face as he was going through this process. When he had his most recent surgery, it damaged his nerves so severely that walking is no longer an option. A few months ago he went to his doctor for his check-up. They informed him that there would be no more surgeries and no more treatments – they had done all that they could do. The tumors continue to grow and are unaffected by treatment.

Unless God heals him…I think you know what I mean.

Imagine, now, how you would feel if you got this diagnosis.

Steve has sought second opinions and third opinions but the message is always the same. “I am sorry, but there is nothing else we can do.”

You would think that outwardly he would be frowning, sad, complaining, and miserable to be around. After all, he has a very good reason to be!  Living with a death sentence can be horrible.

What does Steve say when you ask him how he is doing? “I’m blessed,” or, “Better than I deserve.” The signature on his email messages reads “TODAY IS A GREAT DAY TO BE ALIVE!” I didn’t write it in all capital letters; that is how he puts it on his messages. The other day I got one from him with this message at the bottom of the page.

P.S.  Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, Rejoice!!!

   Steve is the epitome of choosing to live a life of happiness, even when present circumstances suggest he has no reason to be. He knows he is not his own. The God who sought him many years ago is the same God that is with him today.

People who have this trait accomplish more in their lives, and that is not simply because they do more. They achieve more in life because everyone likes to help a person like Steve. We value people like him in our lives. Not only do they make our lives better, but they enrich the lives of everyone they come in contact with. You would recommend them for a job; help them do something, and ask your friends to join in the effort.

Living with a death sentence does not have to make you negative.

Similarly, I’m sure you know the type of person you dont want to be around. Her name is Debbie Downer. She is always complaining about her life, and if you don’t believe me just read her posts on Facebook. She is miserable to be around, always focuses on the negative, and seems to do little to make her life better.

She blames her parents, her ex-husband, her kids, and everyone and everything around her for the struggles in her life. She refuses to take ownership for her attitude and her life choices. Yes, she has had bad things happen in her life, just like all of us, but she cannot get past them.

All she can talk about is the bad in her life and what has happened to her.

When you see her you go the other way and you have learned never to ask her how she’s doing – you know you’d be stuck there for a while. She is running short on friends because people are tired of hearing her laundry list of complaints.

Would you want to work with her? Would you recommend her for a job? Would you want her taking care of your kids?

I think you get the point.

The last part of the Scripture above said…

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.”

Acts 16:25

People are watching and listening to the way you and I respond to the events of our lives. Choose to be happy. Maybe others will choose the God you serve when they see you. Even if they don’t, they will choose a life that has you in it.




Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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2 thoughts on “Living With a Death Sentence

  1. Philip, I have just recently been made aware of your writing and today 01/01/2015, I read this one for the first time. It spoke volumes to me because I do want people around me to see God in my life, both in the good times as well as the bad, I want people to know that the God I serve is real in my life. I am ejoying your writing and
    thanks for the encouragement. Dannie Guinn, Woodlawn, TN