Death In God's Time

What is certain? What will happen? Once upon a time we could answer these questions with wishful desires. I will grow up. I will get married and have a family of my own. My children will be happy and blessed...now those things aren't so certain. In different countries around the world hardly anything is certain. In places like Israel bombings happen everyday and no one is really sure what tomorrow will bring. Here in America we are getting a taste of just how elusive certainty is. What can we really believe in? What is sure? What will happen?

One thing should be abundantly clear to all of us. This life is not guaranteed to last beyond our current breath. At any moment it can end. As James writes, "yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes." None of us knows for sure what tomorrow will bring. We take steps to prevent death. We try to be safe. We exercise and eat right. But none of this is a guarantee of living any longer than the person standing next to you. Do you think any of the marathon runners thought that by running a marathon they would actually be cutting their life shorter? Do you think they anticipated being crippled by running a race? My father-in-law was the same way. He exercised all the time, but in the end God decided to take him home, while he was running on a tread-mill! There is nothing we can do to extend our lives one moment longer than God wills.

So what do we do? Do we give up hope? Do we despair and live like nothing matters? No! We rest, knowing that our lives are in the hands of our maker. We mourn with those who mourn, we rejoice with those who rejoice, and we live, knowing that each day could be our last.

This should give us a sense of great urgency to preach the truth of what happens after death. If death is certain, then the truth of what happens after death must be equally certain. Life doesn't end with death. Our existence in this world comes to a close, but we continue on, either to eternal joyful life under God's grace or to eternal tormented damnation under God's wrath.

Christians, we shouldn't shy away from tragedies like this. We shouldn't stop at sending prayers. We should be urged to use this speak to truth to our friends and loved ones. For those of us whose end is heaven it should cause us to look beyond this life with hope, even as we grieve. To those who think their end is unsure, we need to preach that they will surely continue in eternal death when their end comes.

Death can come at any time. It can be a sweet release after a full life or a sudden stop to a life hardly begun. Whenever it comes, it will come, in God's time. Hopefully, it will be a time of rejoicing as our true life begins with Christ.

"A good name is better than precious ointment,
and the day of death than the day of birth.
It is better to go to a house of mourning
than to go to a house of feasting,
for this is the end of all mankind,
and the living will lay it to heart.
Sorry is better than laughter,
for by sadness of face the heart is made glad."

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