The tennis challenger starts strong but soon loses confidence in his playing. The champion racks up the games. But in the final set, when the challenger has nothing left to lose, he becomes relaxed again, insouciant, daring. Suddenly he's playing like the devil and the champion must work hard to get those last points.
In a healthy individual, a broken bone that has healed properly is strongest where it was once broken. You have not lost any life, Henry told himself. You will still get your fair share of years. Yet the quality of his life changed. Once you've been struck by violence, you acquire companions that never leave you entirely: Suspicion, Fear, Anxiety, Despair, Joylessness. The natural smile is taken from you and the natural pleasures you once enjoyed lose their appeal.
I was giving up. I would have given up - if a voice hadn't made itself heard in my heart. The voice said "I will not die. I refuse it. I will make it through this nightmare. I will beat the odds, as great as they are. I have survived so far, miraculously. Now I will turn miracle into routine. The amazing will be seen everyday. I will put in all the hard work necessary. Yes, so long as God is with me, I will not die. Amen.
I can well imagine an athiest's last words: "White, white! L-L-Love! My God!" - and the deathbed leap of faith. Whereas the agnostic, if he stays true to his reasonable self, if he stays beholden to dry, yeastless factuality, might try to explain the warm light bathing him by saying "Possibly a f-f-failing oxygenation of the b-b-brain," and, to the very end, lack imagination and miss the better story.
Religion is just an alternate way of reading reality - you read material reality, and then you add on an extra layer of religiosity that deepens that understanding of reality. Some countries have lost that capacity, or dismissed it or marginalized it.