Although I had the blessing of going away on vacation and being with my husband as well as with many dear friends, in many ways July was a tough month. I found out a relative of mine has fallen prey to the ever-increasing drug epidemic that is sweeping our country and her life is in danger. Another beloved family member who’d been diagnosed with cancer about five years ago discovered the cancer has spread to another part of her body. My father-in-law was in great pain and hospitalized several times throughout the month, and the doctors couldn't seem to find the source of his problem. I came home to the news that some friends had tragically lost their 19- year old son in a fatal car accident, and on the heels of that, found out another friend’s 26 year old son had died from an accidental drug overdose. The reality is that blessings and tragedies make up all of our lives. As much as we love to focus upon all of the blessings, we have to admit that sin-- and the ultimate consequence of sin, which is death-- is part of living in this world. The death of our physical bodies is inescapable for all of us unless we are raptured by the Lord.
As I heard about each of these situations, I felt an overwhelming sorrow, coupled with anger at Satan who is always afoot to rob, steal, kill and destroy. My heart hurts for the victims of these situations and their families. The reality that sin and death are a part of life doesn’t keep me from deeply grieving when I see its impact upon those I love and those suffering in this world.
I know that many people cannot juxtapose how a good God can allow so much pain, suffering and death, especially death like my friends’ sons. I heard comments to the effect that, ‘It’s so unfair that they died so young!’ Statements like that imply that if we were ‘in charge’, we would do something much different—and ‘better’-- than God. I know that only God is good, and His ways are not only so much wiser than mine, but His ways are always righteous and designed for our good.
In the midst of my grief, the Lord clearly spoke to my sorrowful heart: People may have no choice regarding what brings about or the timing of their death, but everyone has been given a choice regarding their death. Will it be the entrance to heaven and an eternity spent experiencing intimacy with and true joy that can only be found in the Presence of God, or the gateway to an eternity of torment and suffering in hell?
When people cry out that someone’s death isn’t ‘fair’, what rises up in me is that none of us really want what is ‘fair’. For ‘fairness’ would require that all of mankind would be doomed to death, hell and damnation for the penalty of our sin-- something each of us is guilty of because we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Roman 6:23; James 1:5; Matthew 25:46; Romans 3:23). We may try to convince ourselves that it’s not ‘fair’ that we were put under the curse of death because of the choice made by Adam and Eve, but like them, we all have chosen to disobey and disregard the Word of God. Disobedience and rebellion against His Word is sin, and the penalty of sin is pain, suffering, and death (Romans 6:23) What isn’t fair is this: Jesus, the only sinless person ever born, gave up the glories of Heaven to come to earth where He experienced rejection, abandonment, betrayal, and ultimately a horrible death on a cross so that all who choose to put their trust in Jesus’ atoning death-- which alone is able to pay the debt for their sin-- would be set free from the curse of death, become partakers in His resurrection, and able to experience unbroken fellowship and eternal life with the Lord in Heaven. We have been given God's Word that in Heaven “…death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain…” Revelation 21: 4 ESV. That makes my heart rejoice! In the midst of our sorrows over sin and the loss and sorrow that accompanies it, how encouraging it is to know that this life's momentary pain and suffering cannot be compared to the eternal glory that awaits all of us who put our trust in Jesus! (2 Corinthians 4:17)
God has set before each of us a choice: the question is, “Will we choose to receive His free gift of salvation bought with the blood of Jesus and spend eternity with Him, or will we choose to reject His gift, and therefore die in our sin, and spend eternity in hell?”
What indescribable joy there is in knowing that death has lost its sting for all of us who have put our hope and faith in Jesus! What about you? Have you put your trust in Jesus and in His finished work on the cross on your behalf? If you truly believe that He died for your sake and in your place, are you living for His pleasure and for His glory—which is to make His Name known so that others will also come to know that salvation from sin and victory over death is found in Jesus, and in Him alone?
I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV
Written by Julie Van Gorp