We have all wondered why children and “good” people often die young. Even, perhaps, we have blamed God and felt that this is very unfair and unloving that this should happen.
If God were so loving, should not the evil be punished by a short life, and the children all live to an old age? Actually, that is often the case. Sometimes we forget that God knows the end from the very beginning. He knows how we shall end, just as he knew that Jesus would die on the cross for the sins of all mankind even before he sent him to become our savior. Thus, we read that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” God knew, but still he sent him because he loves us all.
However, I recently read a scripture in Isaiah 57:1-2 that affirmed something that I had long felt to be true.
It reads: “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 1n their beds, each one walking in his uprightness.“ The phrase I have placed in bold type, just popped out to me, and it makes all the difference in the world. For affirmation, I also looked it up in the NIV versions, which simply states it even more clearly in more modern English. “The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly, enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.”
We were three brothers. My older brother was five years older than I, and my younger brother was five years younger. Jackie Allan lived for only two days. It seemed so very unfair and unloving that he should die so young. He had been born with a birth defect. His survival would have changed all of our lives. Five years later our farm and much of our furniture was sold and my father left for good. Mother probably could not have survived with two sons at home to raise alone. My older brother had left home years before, so we started with me mowing lawns at first and mother doing laundry, ironing, and house cleaning for others. God was aware of all this, and Jackie was safely back with him, well and loved. He was “taken away from the evil to come.” Mother has now joined him, and I look forward to that reunion to come at the time God has chosen.
God, who knows all that will or can happen to us, who knows the end from our very beginning, had a special task for me that he did not have for Jackie, and it was not there on that farm. By hind-sight, I see afterward more than I did as it unfolded. We all can if we stop to think about what has happened to us along the way. God had a purpose for each of us. We shall live and serve as long as we continue to enter the doors that he opens before us. For me: 1. We left the farm. That had served its purpose. 2. We made two important moves. First to a small town where the Lord’s church became very central in our lives, then moved to a small city where a larger faithful church continued to be a guide and strength. These two churches were to become the backbone of our prayer and financial support over many years to come. 3. I enlisted in the Navy, changing my outlook and purpose in life, and building self confidence greatly. This also paid for my education. 4. I enrolled in a new Bible School and God brought my future wife and I together there. 5. We went to Africa as new missionaries. There formation and work doors continued to open throughout the years. God was at work. Even in my retiring at the age of 72.
God has a plan for each of us, and he opens the doors and nudges the reluctant along all the way. In the case of Saul of Tarsus, Jesus said that he was “kicking against the goads.” With me it was more gentle “nudges” that I enter the doors he opened, but the result was the same. God formed us with love, for a purpose, and he guides us along to that goal.
He know from the beginning whom among us will respond, and who will not. He knows if added years will make a difference. And, if we finish our task on earth early, he like the gracious employer he is, will say, “You are finished, Take the rest of the day off.” I will return for you. Let us look forward with confidence for that “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
God’s will be done!