When singer/songwriter Keith Green, along with his 3 year-old son Josiah and two year-old daughter Bethany were killed in a plane crash in July of 1982, it rocked my world. I was a fan. My husband was a fan.
We had only been married for six months and Keith’s song, “Make My Life A Prayer To You” was a song we had picked for our wedding.
Here was a young husband and father, only 28 years old–faithfully serving the Lord– taken in the prime of his life. It all seemed surreal and… senseless.
“Why would God take him when he was doing so many good things for the Kingdom?”
I might not have said it out loud, but I know I wasn’t the only one thinking it.
I can vividly remember an earlier time when I had that same exact same thought. I was 13 years old when my uncle, a 34-year-old bachelor that loved the Lord and loved people–and loved his nieces and nephews–died suddenly of heart failure. His was a heart of gold. This uncle was loved my many. He was a strong believer and had a heart for worship–singing in a gospel quartet.
He didn’t leave behind a wife and children, but his passing left a lasting impact and it changed my life in a way that I wouldn’t even understand until I was much older. (His death catapulted my parents into a full-forced rejection of religion; and my once active, church-going family suddenly became secular without any discussion or explanation.)
While this question of “Why?” can haunt so many and easily lead down a very dangerous path, not asking God for answers is much a more dangerous one. One filled with doubt. One marked by unforgiveness. Often filled with anger and bitterness.
[despair; hopelessness © 2018 Dictionary.com, LLC]
“We are afflicted in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:9
This verse was written by the apostle Paul. He was faithfully serving the Lord, yet he experienced being shipwrecked, beaten, imprisoned and even stoned, yet he also writes these words:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3
The question that filled my young mind when I was faced with the reality of death–death of one that seemed to deserve better–can only be answered with Truth from God’s Word. HOW? How do we understand the “why?” By listening to the One who is all-knowing, all-powerful and an ever-present help in times of trouble:
For we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you. Indeed, everything is for your benefit so that, as grace extends through more and more people, it may cause thanksgiving to increase to the glory of God.
Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:14-18
HOPE is found in the unseen–the eternal. While we don’t know the answer to the question, “Why?”, we do know the “Who?”, and that He is in control and able to give us hope despite our circumstance. Even despite our grief.
Because HOPE is a person.
“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For we say this to you by a word from the Lord: We who are still alive at the Lord’s coming will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are still alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
I have since been to a lot of funerals. Friends and family have lived and died. Many have lived well. Some have died well.
While that may sound strange to say, it is true. Dying well isn’t about how you die, or even about how old you are when you die. It is about when you die.
When you die is most often not something you get to choose. What you can choose is how you prepare for this certain uncertainty. More important than any end-of-life decision, choosing to believe, trust, and commit to following Christ will put you on a life-giving path. It doesn’t change the timing of our destination for eternity, but it does change the location. Heaven is real, and God has provided a way for us to know where we are going when we die. If you’re considering where you will spend eternity and you would like to be certain that you’re going to heaven, you can start by reading my FAITH page, here: FAITH
When these two young men died, it was after a decision to follow Christ, and not before.
And that means they were ready to meet their Creator in eternity!
While both of these were very difficult funerals where the family grieved and many tears were shed, they were comforted in knowing that these men were absent from their earthly bodies, but had gained spiritual ones! Far greater grief is in store for those who mourn with no hope. Remember, HOPE is found in Jesus. He “is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9
Why Suffering? Finding Meaning and Comfort When Life Doesn’t Make Sense, by Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale