“I don’t want to die. Please don’t let me die.” General Jose Ornella says that these were Hugo Chavez’s last words. He elaborated, “He couldn’t speak but he said it with his lips.”
I don’t know where Chavez will spend eternity. Only the Lord can see into a man’s heart. What I do know is that the Christian has a faith that carries beyond the grave. Our hope does not rest in this body. Reading a comment today that Chavez amassed 2 billion dollars of wealth, I can’t help but think of the parabolic story of Jesus recorded in Luke 16:19-31. You may know it as Lazarus and the Rich Man or the story of the Great Reversal.
22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.
For the Christian, hope comes not in material possessions of this world, but in the promise that Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us; the promise that to be absent from the body is to be present with Christ; and the promise that He will one day return. One day, we will receive a glorified body free from the sinful stains of this world.
Pastors will find a relevant sermon illustration in the last words of Chavez, and I hope that you will consider your own last words. May they not be looking back upon what you leave behind, but looking forward to what comes next. If you don’t have that assurance, you can through repenting of your sins and putting your faith in Jesus Christ.