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Devotional for Comfort When a Young Person Dies
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. Still, "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul." - Matthew 10:28
- Why didn’t God raise His hand against the gunman and protect the innocent?
No answer is satisfactory to grieving parents or siblings. Yet the reality is that God's thoughts and ways seldom match our reasoning:
- sometimes He protects us in the line of fire and allows us to remain alive;
- sometimes He retires us (through death) from the battle.
A Young King Faces Death
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)
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, and the Lord responded by giving Hezekiah an additional fifteen years, which did not even take him to the promised "three score and ten" (Psalm 90:10).
- When a person knows how long he will live, does he push the urgent button and sprint to the fulfillment of his life's goal?
- Does she add fuel to her program to make her influence spread faster?
Yet, many life stories of those who die young seem to indicate that they accomplished more in their short lives than the average person do in the same number of years. So are these deaths really untimely? Or shall we realize after awhile that the deceased completed their life's mission and were not truly robbed of their years?
Three Young Men Face Death
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).
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. Besides, there was no disadvantage for them if they died young, while they were living within His will.
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.
We All Face Death
For the grave cannot praise you, death cannot sing your praise;
The living, the living—they praise you, as I am doing today. - Isaiah 38:17
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.
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.
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, sometimes 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.
---- 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.
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 whether we are young or old when we die, we will be ready to enjoy You forever in eternity. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
© 2012 Dora Weithers