I read with sadness Joyce Faiola's article "Thoughts on a certain day." It just seemed to beg for an answer.
The apostle Paul spoke about those who were "without hope and without God, in the world," and hopelessness was what I sensed in the lives of Joyce's friends.
But hope is what God has to offer, and it can make all the difference in the world as a person reaches their final years. This is what I have seen in the lives of the elderly folks that I have known. Of course I would never try to minimize the suffering many people endure, but hope shines best in the darkest place.
In 2000, my family spent five days a week for several months living with my father-in-law, caring for him as he suffered from cancer. It was, as they say, the "best of times and the worst of times." He had the hope of the resurrection and the love of his family as he suffered terribly. He passed away in his home surrounded by siblings, children and grandchildren.
Sadly, the breakdown of the family makes it harder for those who must suffer alone or even live in good health alone, but the hope of the resurrection is offered to all and can carry a person to the end of his or her life.
As the apostle Paul languished in prison, he said that "everyone had forsaken him but the Lord had not forsaken him." In 2nd Timothy 2 he said that in spite of great suffering, he had committed his life to God, who was able to preserve Paul's soul until "that day."
For the Christian, there