When loved ones die
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For ‘WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR?’ Or ‘WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN?’ For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:33-36 NASB)
Sometimes when God allows into our path something that is difficult to bear, we ask the question, “Why?” Why do I have to go through this? Why did he have to die so young? Why did it have to happen that way?
The verses above remind us that God’s ways are higher than our ways, and there is “no bottom” to His intelligence. We have an all-powerful, all-knowing God “who works all things after the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11). That will is “good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). God is not the author of evil, nor does He delight in bringing calamity into our lives. He says “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked” and asks them “why will ye die?” (Ezek 33:11), but in contrast, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints” – they are precious to Him, and they go to be with Him (Psalm 116:15).
God allows difficulties to come our way for reasons which many times He alone knows. God may bring death to preserve someone from something in the future. King Hezekiah likely would have been better off had he accepted death rather than receiving additional years (2Kings 20:5-6). Difficulties come sometimes for the furtherance of the gospel, or they can be for judgment or chastening, among other reasons. Job didn’t understand why God allowed Satan to bring trials into his life, but we understand that it was for Job’s good, developing his character, and ultimately resulted in blessing. In his trial, Job honored God and proved Satan, the accuser, wrong. Job had a right attitude when he went through his trial. He said, “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21 NASB). He came out of that trial as purified gold, more brilliant and blessed than before (Job 23:10).
God isn’t required to tell us why, but sometimes He does. He often has revealed His secrets to those closest to Him (Gen. 18:17, Ex 5:22-6:1, Daniel 2:19, John 15:15). Joseph didn’t find out the reason for his trial until some time later (Genesis 50:20). We can go into the sanctuary with Asaph for either God’s guidance or His enabling grace (Psalm 73:17). We can say respectfully with Samuel, “Speak, LORD, for Thy servant heareth” (1 Samuel 3:9).
I have been considering Romans 11:35 (above) in light of a recent funeral of a young man who had a wife and small child. God is the first Giver, and all we have comes from Him. We cannot give anything to Him that He has not first given to us. If we have children, they are a gift from Him, given to us as a stewardship to bring up for Him. Ultimately, they still are God’s, and He has the right as Creator and Sustainer to do with them as seems best to Him. The Bible says that Christ “upholds all things by the word of His power” (Heb. 1:3 NASB). Colossians 1:17 NASB states, “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” Daniel 5:23 tells us that our life-breath and all our ways are held in God’s hand, and thus we have an obligation to bring glory to Him. Again, Acts 17:25 NASB tells us, “nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things.” One day each one of us must return unto God who gave us life (Eccl 12:7), whether sooner or later. So if each moment on earth is graciously given to us from God, and if he constantly maintains and sustains our lives, surely God is not unrighteous to allow that soul to return to his/her Maker. Whether short or long, our life is only a vapor in comparison to eternity (James 4:14). For the lost that perish, God gave them ample opportunity, and they despised it. For the saved, God says that for them, it is “far better” (Phil. 1:23).
When we are under the load of our trials, it is helpful to think upon the sacrifice that God the Father made on our behalf. He sent His Son into a sinful world that He knew would despise and reject Him, and finally nail Him to a cross to die. Yet in doing so He brought infinite glory to His Son, and infinite blessing to His people. Out of darkness, there came light. Out of poverty, there came riches. Out of sorrow, there came joy. Out of curse, there came blessing. Out of suffering, there came victory. Out of death, there came life. And God is able to bring the same out of our circumstances, to His glory and our blessing.
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him (Psalm 42:5,11).
Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. (Psalm 55:22)