Life Lessons about Dying Young
In April, 2007, a student at Virginia Tech University went on a shooting rampage and killed more than thirty students and faculty members. Among the victims were potential church and government leaders who died in the prime of their lives. They became victims of someone’s insanity.
- Why didn’t God raise His hand against the gunman and protect the innocent?
No answer is satisfactory to grieving parents who lose their children, or to brothers and sisters who lose their siblings.
Yet the reality, a life lesson, is that we are all subject to the control of a Higher Power:
- sometimes God protects us in the line of fire and allows us to remain alive;
- sometimes He retires us (through death) from the battle.
In the prime of my life must I go through the gates of death and be robbed of the rest of my years?— Isaiah 38:10 (NIV)
A Young King Faces Death
King Hezekiah, was about thirty nine or forty, according to Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible when he became ill and faced death. "The Jews call such a death a cutting off, that is, by the hand of God, which is before a man is fifty years of age."
Hezekiah cried to the Lord, reminding Him that he had been a devoted follower. The lesson from His situation is that death is not always determined by how good or bad the victim has been. The Lord responded by giving Hezekiah an additional fifteen years.
- What is it like for the person who knows how many years before he dies?
It would have been wonderful if Hezekiah could have forgotten about death completely, but it is likely that he thought about it every day for the rest of his life. Fifteen years would not even take him to the promised "three score and ten" (Psalm 90:10).
Death is inevitable, with or without warning. Hezekiah had a daily reminder that he would die. Question is, did it cause him to accept his death as timely, or did he still think it was untimely?
---- Recommended Reading ----
- 10 Comforting Bible Verses on Coping With Death
The Bible is a great comfort for Christians seeking hope through the promises of God. When a loved one has passed away the Bible is a comforting source of strength while coping with the death.
Three Young Men Face Death
In another episode (Daniel 3), three Hebrew boys faced death by fire, for refusing to bow down in worship to a Babylonian image. Instead of crying and begging like King Hezekiah, they put the matter entirely in God's hands.
They never doubted His ability to rescue them, but they knew that rescue was not His only plan.
- "If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us. . . But even if he does not . . . we will not serve your gods"(17, 18).
Their faith allowed them to trust God with making the decision that was right for His purpose. There was no disadvantage for them if were dying young, while they were pleasing God.
One of the most important life lessons we can learn from those who died with their faith in tact is that faith is not always rewarded with life. The heroes of faith (Hebrews 11) received different rewards. Abel, who obeyed God, received death (verse 4), while Enoch who also obeyed, was taken to heaven (verse 5). The reality of faith is not that it produces the outcome we hope for; but that it maintains trust in God, no matter the outcome.
The Hebrew boys had a cheerful and comforting approach to death.
Five Important Life Lessons
- 1. God is the Time-Keeper; we are all subject to His timing.
- 2. Death is not influenced by how bad or good the victim has been.
- 3. Sometimes death, not life, results from loyalty to our faith.
- 4. The number of years one lives is not as important as the volume of the contribution one makes within those years.
- 5. A life of gratitude facilitates the acceptance of death.
We All Face Death
For the most part, we do not even want to think about death. Even though some dare to express how and when they will like to die, they know that the control and the timer are in God’s hands.
Hezekiah wrote in his song,
“For the grave cannot praise you, death cannot sing your praise;
The living, the living—they praise you, as I am doing today.”
An attitude of constant gratitude is the best preparation for a joyful life beyond our mortal death. The difference between dying young or dying when we're older is the time frame in which we make our contribution to life. And in the end, the number of years does not matter as much as the volume of the contribution we make.
The victims at Virginia Tech, King Hezekiah and the Hebrew Boys are witnesses to the fact that our lives are more important than our deaths. Their stories tell us to live to the fullest in obedience to God and to our faith; and to leave the ending of our lives entirely up to His wisdom.
Thank You Heavenly Father, for the gift of life. Help us to maintain our relationship with You even in the face of death. May we enjoy Your presence every minute of the day, so that even in dying young, we will be ready to enjoy You forever in eternity. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
© 2012 Dora Isaac Weithers