A Conversation With Death

(After a heroic 3 ½-year battle with cancer, the Lord called Pastor Troy Keaton’s wife Janel home on April 25, 2024. Pastor Troy, who is Daniel Henderson’s pastor and part of our Directional Leadership Team for The 6:4 Fellowship, gave the final message at the service—a portion of which included the following reflection on a conversation with death. We trust it will inspire you as it has already touched thousands of others.)

Death, you fulfilled your purpose. You were sent into the world as a punishment for sin, as a sign of humanity’s separation from God. When Adam and Eve sinned, death was passed upon us all.

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, 

and death through sin, and so death spread to all men 

because all sinned… (Romans 5:12)

And so, Death, we feel your sting. You’ve done your job well. We felt your eerie presence lingering on the fringes waiting to consume her earthly body. It was so hard to watch. But you did it. Congratulations. You’ve performed your duty. You’ve left a gaping hole in our hearts and lives. We weep because she’s gone from this earth.

But Death, you overplayed your hand. You thought you could extinguish a life, but instead you have ignited a light to shine bright for the glory of God. You thought it was over last Thursday, but today people’s faith in Jesus is getting stronger and stronger. What you meant for evil God is taking and using for His glory.

As one writer says, if Satan schemed the death of Jesus he never more fatally wounded his own cause. The worst thing death can do to us is usher us into the best thing God has ever prepared for us!

The worst thing death can do to us is usher us into the best thing God has ever prepared for us!

Death, I actually owe you a “thank you!” Because last Thursday you became the portal to Janel’s paradise. The angels ushered her spirit into the presence of Jesus. She is now free from every earthly trouble, cured of cancer, released from sorrow, set free from the burdens of this life… thanks to you! You overplayed your hand.

You, O Death, who set out to destroy Janel and devastate all of us, have been commandeered by the Savior as an instrument to usher her into great glory. As you closed your hands around her mortal body, her spirit slipped into the perfect presence of God. As you extinguished her breath in this life, you ensured her next breath would be the air of Heaven.

Jesus said to a grieving sister in John 11:25-26,

“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”

Janel trusted Jesus! Janel loved Jesus. Janel believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. And because of that, Jesus has forever set her free from the influence of death and darkness.

Death, you are defeated! You have forever lost your hold on Janel. Never again, Satan, will you frustrate, discourage, or inflict pain on her. As she slipped from this earth last Thursday, you lost every ounce of influence you’ve ever had on her. I remind you of what Paul said in I Corinthians 15:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.

O death, where is your victory?

O death, where is your sting” on her now, Death? 

I’m reminded of the story of the little boy who was watching his grandmother making a quilt. It was turned upside down and all these ugly strings were hanging everywhere.

He asked her, “Grandma, what are you making?” She said, “I’m making a beautiful quilt.” He looked at it again and said, “Grandma, that is the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen.” She responded, “Oh honey, you are looking at it from the wrong side.”

To us, Death, this all looks pretty ugly. But I believe that from where Janel is standing today, she’s saying, “Oh, you should see it from this side!”

  • On this side we saw her sickness. But on the other side she discovered His healing.
  • On this side we heard the doctors say, “It’s not good, there’s nothing else we can do.” But on the other side she heard Jesus say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
  • On this side we watched her weep in pain. But on the other side she has joy unspeakable and is full of glory.
  • On this side she gasped for her last breath. But on the other side she breathes easy the air of Heaven.
  • On this side we say goodbye. But on the other side she heard, “Good morning!”
  • On this side we live in the sin-cursed and fallen world. But on the other side she has discovered the Holy City of God, the New Jerusalem.
  • On this side she died. But on the other side she has just started living.

Copyright ©2024 Troy Keaton. All rights reserved.  


Pastor Troy is the founding pastor at East Lake Community Church at Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia. East Lake is a growing, dynamic, generous church with a God-size vision to Multiply Believers, Leaders, and Churches. Troy is passionate about prayer, the Word of God, and seeing the church experience renewal. Troy and his wife Janel were blessed with 4 children and 8 grandchildren. Pastor Troys greatest blessing has been loving his wife through her difficult 3 ½-year journey with cancer. The Lord called Janel home on April 25, 2024.