When a young person passes from this life, or when someone dies unexpectedly, the ‘why’ question starts percolating. The intensity of the question directly relates to the age and health of the person. My 93-year-old cousin died the other day and there was a smile, almost a yawn. Nice lady, lived a good life, husband’s already gone, Amen. But when we’re blindsided -- a 22-year-old hit by a drunk driver, or the seemingly-healthy matriarch of a busy family dies unexpectedly -- it’s harder. “God’s will?” Must have been. But why? It’s a struggle.
Then all the well-meaning mourners show up trying to make it better. “She’s in a better place.” “There’s a celebration going on in heaven right now!” Even Billy Graham’s devotional quote makes my teeth itch when it says “Angels are real and God has commanded them to watch over us.” I know it’s true, but we all could point to the place and time of an accident or a heart attack or a brain aneurism and ask, “Where were the angels then?” Not satisfying when you’re crying your eyes out trying to see what life’s going to be like when the mourning winds down and life starts back up.
Maybe the starting point is realizing that we are created by God for God.
Yes, for God.
. . . everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made. Isaiah 43:7 (emphasis mine)
For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. Colossians 1:17 (emphasis mine)
What if we turn it around and look at it from God’s perspective? He created us. He ‘owns’ us. He owns the copyright to our story. He’s timeless and sees things timelessly. He knows the beauty of heaven and the joy ahead for us there. Suppose there’s a part of His story that can only be told in heaven by our loved one. And suppose He wants that story told immediately . . . like right now. Suppose there’s a role to play in heaven and only one person can fulfill it, now and forever. Is God supposed to wait for His ultimate glory, not only holding back what He wants but also delaying joy for the person who’s been selected for that role?
I heard that one of the Ivy League schools has 35,000 applications for 1,600 spots. The admissions people say “We’re not looking for the best student. We’re selecting students to create the best class.” It’s not about the individual per se, it’s about bringing unique individuals to add to the class and enrich the greater whole.
When I heard this, I thought, “Maybe that’s it. Maybe there’s a particular role that Marilyn or Nick or someone you miss terribly is uniquely purposed to fill in God’s heaven.” No way we’d stand in the way of their getting the chance to fulfill their heavenly destiny and bring even more glory to God than they did here.
Just a thought.
Question: What has God taught you about dealing with what seems like the premature departure of someone you love?
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