A 14-year-old girl was playing basketball on a Community Recreation Program team, when she suddenly became ill. She came off the basketball court complaining that she could not breathe. A doctor, a nurse, and an Emergency Medical Technician who were in the audience immediately sought to minister to the girl. But it was too late. She was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.
The girl’s mother was in the audience and saw this happen. She was devastated. This girl was a committed Christian. She appeared to be in excellent health. The mother was understandably confused and questioning. She was crying in her heart, “Why, Lord, why?” She still is struggling with this.
Many people have found themselves asking God, “Why?” Perhaps not under the exact same circumstances, but bewildered nonetheless. It is particularly hard to understand why God would allow such to happen when the persons concerned are all Christians. It is even harder to understand when this happens to a child or youth, who has just begun her life. How do we deal with this?
We surely must begin by recognizing and confessing that we simply cannot understand—nor are we supposed to. In Isaiah 55:9 we are told, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” There is no way a mere mortal can expect to know the mind of God, other than by God choosing to reveal His mind to us. This He has done through His Holy Word, the Bible. There are many times we simply must acknowledge the mystery, and accept by faith what we can never rationally understand.
The next thing we need to remember is that God has his own “timetable.” In Ecclesiastes Chapter 3:1-4 we are told, “There is an appointed time for everything and there is a time for every event under heaven—A time to give birth, and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; A time to mourn, and a time to dance.” Here we are plainly told that nothing happens by chance; all is under the sovereignty of God. So, when someone’s death seems untimely to us, we must remember that God alone is judge of what is timely.
It helps if we can understand and believe that, as a good friend of mine wrote in a poem about death, “…sometimes you are quite kind.” There ARE things worse than death, and we need to consider what God MAY have spared our loved one from by calling that one to Himself when He did. I have often thought that if we had the ability God has to “see over the next hill,” we might even be grateful for God’s gracious calling of our loved one.
It further helps to remember that God has a plan for the life of each one of us, and the length of that life is not what really matters. In Psalm 139 we are told: “My frame was not hidden from Thee when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought out in the depths of the earth. Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance, and in Thy book they were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.” (verses 15,16)
In God’s perfect plan, we are given particular life spans that obviously vary in length. In light of what this passage of Scripture tells us, how can we ever presume to think that a person was not allowed to live out his or her life-span? I have often thought that, since God’s family on earth is made up of persons of all different ages or life stages, perhaps it is God’s desire that the same should be true of His family in heaven.
Besides all this, when we stop to consider it, we realize that we cannot properly measure a life by its length of years. I think Peter Marshall said it best: “The measure of one’s life is not its duration, but it’s donation.” He, himself, died at the age of 48.
Finally, we can, and must, cling to the great promise and assurance we are given in that beloved verse, Romans 8:28—“And we know that God CAUSES all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” No death of a Christian is ever meaningless or wasted. We may never personally know the good that God brings out of it, or we may not know for many years. But we can know that He does use that event to accomplish His divine will.
But the most glorious thought of all is that, because God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to live and die and rise again, opening the door of heaven for those who are redeemed by His blood, we will be able to see and know again our loved ones who have died in the Lord. In this is our comfort. HALLELUJAH!