Saturday, April 2, 2011

When Someone Dies

Just had my nephew die. It was unexpected. He was 52. That’s not an appropriate age for dying. Come to think of it I’m not sure there is an appropriate age. We all know we’re going to die but never expect that to happen until old age, going quietly in our sleep.

When death comes prematurely, at least from our standpoint, we look at the amount of time they had left and all they’ve now lost out on. Jim’s daughter is to be married in two months. He had just gotten measured for his tux earlier that same morning. He was a couple of years away from retirement. Cut short with great dreams and wonderful plans.

My brother (his father-in-law) said he hoped God was right on this one because it makes no sense to him. I agree with the last part—it makes no sense, but I’m not sure I’m ready to doubt whether God is ever right or wrong.

The Bible says “Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them. (Ps 139)  Two thoughts: it could be that David was thinking specifically about his life and how God planned the whole thing, making him king and all. Or it could be that he had been given an understanding into the big picture of life and death.

If we take the second, he’s talking about us and how long we’ll live. When those days run out, we run out of time. Our plans are immaterial to those allotted days. Just because we have a larger human agenda left undone, it doesn’t mean God has cut anything short. Our lifetime has been fulfilled.

That may or may not be encouraging. It may just be me trying to make sense out of a tragic loss. But I don’t want to believe God capriciously snuffs out our life, takes away a loved one or makes life and death decisions on a whim. I want to believe He operates from a much greater perspective, one through which He accounts for the amount of time we spend long before we have a day of it to live.

Death is a mystery on this side of it. We grapple for any clue that might tell us why. The best I can understand is, why isn’t one of the questions that gets answered when someone dies. We might have a medical explanation, but we don’t know the reason what happened happened in the first place. So we’re left with a hole in our heart and vacuum in our understanding.

So, at this point, we’ll sense both and until healing comes, and in the meantime that’s where we’ll leave it, believing in a God who had made plans for us, plans for our welfare to give us a future and a hope. Just as He did for Jim, all the way up to and including the day he went home.

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