We read about it every day in the paper, or hear it on the news: someone who is young and helpful, a real angel (so to speak) and he or she has died.
Don’t we ask ourselves, “Why? Why, Lord, did you take this wonderful person away from their family and loved ones? And away from all the good they were doing? Why?”
I wish I had an answer. I am thinking about this because I saw one of these stories in the paper the other day. A beautiful, young woman with young children who left them a video of herself while she was still lucid and healthy looking. A few weeks later she was dead.
It started me thinking about God’s plans and purposes. I think of all the prophets and could-have-been heroes that are not in the Bible because they didn’t heed God’s call to them. I always say you can’t make an argument from nothing, and you may say, “Steve- if these people aren’t in the Bible how can you say they didn’t heed the call? If there’s nothing about them, you can’t talk about them.” But there are some mentions in the Bible about people that didn’t heed God’s call, or tried not to. Jonah almost made the list of not-knowns, but he changed his mind and did as God asked. Moshe almost made the list, but God sent him Aaron and was very convincing (although Moshe almost caused God to kill him for disobedience on the way to Egypt.) There are some people we hear mention of in the Gospels; the man who wanted to follow Yeshua but wouldn’t give up his wealth, and the other guy who Yeshua asked to follow him but he said he needed to bury his father first. The event about the person is talked about, but the person is on the list of not-knowns.
There is another list, and one that is closer to finding an answer to why people die young. That’s the list of those God took for (apparently) no reason. Miryam (Miriam, Moshe’s sister) died and was buried in the desert. No reason, she just up and died. Aaron was gathered to his people, too, but there was no reason. No mention of sickness, no reminder of the sin he committed at Mt. Horeb, just, “Time to go, Big Bro: Bye-bye.” Moshe also was gathered to his people, even though he was still as sharp as a tack and in good health (the Bible tells us this.) Although here we pretty much know why Moshe was called home- the people were ready to enter the land and Moshe was not allowed to go, so God decided to call Moshe home instead of leaving Him alone in the desert. Moshe was called home because his service to the Lord was at an end.
Hey- maybe that’s the answer? When what the Lord has called us to do is at an end, he will take us home. That’s why Miryam and Aaron were gathered without any obvious or stated reason. That might be true also of Enoch, who walked with God and then just wasn’t there anymore. And Elisha, who was taken into heaven by the chariot of God.
Oh, wait- Elisha didn’t see death. Hmmm….oh, I get it! Elisha was done on Earth but not done, totaly. He had to return to foretell the coming of Messiah, so he was taken from life but not gathered to his people. Not yet, sort of an in-between.
We also have the stories of children that died and were brought back to life- Elijah, Yeshua, Shaul all brought children back to life. Perhaps the kids died so that God’s purpose could be fulfilled, not because their job on Earth was done but because their job was to die to show God’s power by bringing them back.
I think we’re on to something here. Maybe the reason people die, what seems to us uselessly, is planned by God because either they had served their purpose for him , or their death will serve a purpose for Him. The Bible does show us that the death of some people was related to their service to God. Moshe died when his service was done, the boy that Elijah revived and returned to his mother served God in that the mother said, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is truth.” And Yeshua even tells us that the death of Lazarus was determined and had a purpose (“This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”)
Going forward, I think I will stop asking “Why?” when I read about “untimely” deaths and accept that they are, in fact, good things because it is in someway serving God’s purpose. Perhaps the young woman that died had served a purpose that glorified God, or that the results of her death will glorify God in the future.
I remember hearing, when I was very young (just after the Earth cooled) someone explaining that when a wonderful person died that it was because God needed another angel in heaven. I like that- it’s a little sappy, I agree, but it may be closer to the truth than we realize. Maybe He is not calling someone to be an angel, but recalling an angel He sent here to help someone? How many times have we read of God using human beings to accomplish His plans?
I started out without an answer to the question I posed in the title, but now I think I have come up with a good possibility. Why die young? Maybe because the death we don’t understand is related to a purpose that God has had all along. The person has completed what God has called them to do, or their death will result in some action that will glorify God.
I like this answer much better than what could be another valid answer: we live in a cursed world and sometimes bad things just happen. There’s a lot of truth to that, too.
Nah…I like the serving God’s purpose reason better. Don’t you?
There is a downside, though: if you feel you are performing a purpose that glorifies God, you may think that completing that task will result in your death. I mean, if there is any validity to my postulation, serving God’s purpose on Earth will get us killed! On the other hand, we could refuse God’s call to us and end up on that list of not-knowns. Life is not like salvation: God grants us both, but whereas God will not take back the gift of salvation, He certainly can, and will, take back the gift of life if it serves His purpose.
Let’s also remember that it is much, much better to be in God’s presence than on Earth (at least, I think so) so, overall, serving God is the highest calling anyone on Earth can have, and since we don’t know how much God wants us to do, or how long it will take, might just a s well do as He calls us to do and not worry about what happens when it’s over.
Live your life to glorify God, do as He calls you to do, and you will live a blessed life. Then, when God is ready for you to come home, it will be peaceful and glorious.