Early in my ministry a young man of 18 died unexpectedly during the night. He had just started getting his life in order from drugs and alcohol. He was attending college while living at home with his mother. Life was finally turning around for him. When his mother went in to wake him up for class one morning he was unresponsive. The medical team called to the scene declared dead.
When I arrived the mother was understandably devastated. In the midst of her deep sorrow she looked me in the eye and asked, “Why would God do this to my son?!” I didn’t have an answer, but knew I had to give her some kind of response that included hope. I prayed with her and went back to my study asking God to give me something to encourage her and those who would be at the funeral.
At some point in my study and searching scripture I came upon Isaiah 57:1-2…
The righteous man perishes, and no one lays it to heart; devout men are taken away, while no one understands. For the righteous man is taken away from calamity; he enters into peace; they rest in their beds…
Upon reflection and prayer I came to understand that the all wise and loving God’s thoughts are not our thoughts nor are his ways our ways.[i] Thus there are times it could be (Note those last three words!), there are times it could be that God decides to bring one of his children home to spare them greater suffering had they continued to live in a broken world. Had they lived longer on earth they may have experienced great heart ache, suffering, and hardship and so in his wisdom and love he decides to spare them the pain they would have experienced by bringing them to their eternal home in his presence.
Indeed “God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love him, who are the called according to his purpose.”[ii] “Just because we don’t see how something can be good doesn’t mean it isn’t good.”[iii] As someone has said, “Don’t doubt in the dark what God has revealed to you in the light.” This includes what we perceive to be tragedies, disasters, and calamities. It is best to take God at his word and believe him no matter what we think, feel, or desire at the time. Thus when life doesn’t make sense, I choose to reflect on the following passages…
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places. (Habakkuk 3:17-19)
Though he slay me, I will hope in him… (Job 13:15)
For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. (Psalm 84:11)
Romans 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 37 In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I choose to believe God is good in all things. Everything he does is first for his glory then my ultimate good. There is never anything that happens that falls outside these two truth statements, regardless of how I perceive them in the moment. Even though the pain may be intense, God’s purpose is to make me rely on him because he raises the dead as Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 1:8-11…
We were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.
Trust God. Believe Him. Flee to his side for refuge, comfort, and strength.