One of the most important lessons in life that every mothers child needs to learn is the fact that just because something doesn’t make sense to us, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t make sense. Life may in fact be full of mysteries, questions, and enigmas, but only for us. Ultimately, there is no such thing as “the unknown” because there is no mystery before the eyes of the Lord. The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 147:5, “Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.”
One of the greatest struggles that confront many people, is when good men, (as we know good) seem to die contrary to sensible rhyme or reason. Furthermore, our confusion seems to be exacerbated when young people die beyond our sense of cosmic fairness and justice.
Recently, the Lord called home a brother, friend, and firebrand for the gospel; and nothing from the realm of our natural sense made sense. Jimmy was a man on fire for the Lord, and drinking spiritual gasoline as fast as he could. I look forward to a time in glory when we are praising the Lord for His Salvation in our lives, and Jimmy gives his testimony for all the saints to hear. He was truly a Saul to Paul conversion, (minus the blinding light, and voice from heaven.) Three years ago, I stood on his front porch one evening and listened to him tell me and another man, as kindly as a man of the world could, “I’m not saved, and if I ever want to be, you’ll be the first to know.” Praise the Lord, within a year, Jimmy was letting me know. Without going into all the details of his story, the Lord worked in Jimmy’s life and drew him to the place of life-changing, soul-saving faith; and for the last two years, everyone in earshot would know about it.
For two years, Jimmy gave his testimony every time he was asked and then some. He began a pre-work Bible study, devotional time at his company at 6:00 a.m. and filled his break room with workers. Many who had no interest in the Lord, or church, but because of the change in Jimmy couldn’t deny that there is something to this thing we call the gospel. The Jimmy after Jesus, was so different from the Jimmy before Jesus, that when his new walk matched his new talk, people listened to him, and were drawn to him, and he was quick to point them to directly to the Lord. Area churches began to call and ask Jimmy to come and speak. He always loved and respected his pastor so much that Jimmy never took an invitation without “checking in.” In short, the Lord saved a man, used the man . . . and then without a certified notice from heaven, called the man home.
Things seemed to be going so well, this just didn’t make sense.
It was on par with the ten year old that I buried in the first year of my ministry; or the young woman who was trying to do all the right she knew to do whose life was taken, leaving behind a young husband and one year old daughter; or the traumatic exit of a teenage young man. Sometimes a death does not make human sense.
Now the fact is that sometimes it does. We do not ask questions when an out and out scoundrel dies. We don’t ask questions when an elderly person dies. We don’t really ask questions in scenarios that match our understanding. We only seem to ask questions when our human sense of “justice” and “fairness” and “potential” are ignored by death. However, the obvious truth is that there are reasons for death that go beyond these human senses.
Ultimately the general reason that people die is because of sin. Sin is the source of all death, and there is no avoiding it. It is a judgment against, and the ailment of the human race; “in Adam all die.” No real Bible-believer denies the general cause of death. The questions that most people ask have nothing to do with the reasons for death in general, but reasons for death in the “specifics.” It’s as though men say, “I know everyone dies, but why now?”
Furthermore, most people always recognize God’s hand in it, because it is Him that they question the most. “Why did God let this happen?” Or, “Why did God do this?” Or, “What was God thinking when He let that tragedy occur?” I’ve not met “questioning people” yet, that didn’t know or recognize somehow that God was involved. It is not that they don’t see God’s hand, it is that they don’t see God’s sense.
Biblically speaking there are many “specific” reasons that people die in what we might call “premature” timing. Not to be insensitive or unnecessarily blunt, but sometimes the Lord just kills them. The Bible teaches that there is a sin unto death. It is not above God to say, “if you can’t behave, then go to your eternal home.” There are those times when God removes a life that has crossed Him for the last time; Ananias and Sapphira would be an example of such.
The Bible also teaches that “time and chance” happens to all. In this sin-cursed world there are natural happenings that God could choose to stop, but for His reasons He does not. No one dies outside of the eyesight of the Lord, but sometimes the Lord just chooses not to intervene. When Jesus was speaking of the tower of Siloam that fell and killed eighteen people, he rebuked the disciples for supposing there was a sovereign punishment behind it.
While sometimes people die because of the sin-cursed world; and sometimes the Lord just outright kills people because of their sin, there is also an occasion in which God will take someone’s life out of pure loving mercy. Sometimes God will take a life because of His precious and protective love.
In Isaiah 57:1-2 – “The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness.” Babylonian captivity was on the horizon, and some of Israel’s best had died and were dying. Israel was at a point when they needed good, strong, righteous leaders, as much as they ever had, and it appeared to Isaiah and the people, that all of their “righteous” were being taken from them. With trouble on the horizon, and the funerals of their best littering their minds, the people were no doubt perplexed at what God was doing.
Without getting into what God was doing with the nation, Isaiah states it very plain in what God was doing with His good and righteous men; He was sparing them from the evil to come. It is in God’s character to take a person’s life to keep them from something terrible down the road. Not only is it in His character it is in history that He has done that before. That being said, sometimes in God’s great love, He will say to His children, “Come on home” there is danger ahead I don’t want you to go through.
I do not know the specifics of why God took Jimmy home. I do know that it is no mystery to God. Whatever the reason, I do know it was a good reason. There is comfort in knowing that sometimes God loves us enough to spare us from trouble to come, because there are things in life worse than dying. Job said it well, “though He slay me, yet will I trust Him;” any other view is not a change worth making.