Matthew 10:7-8

"And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give."

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


I am going to try to be very sensitive as I write today. I know that what I am writing can be very controversial and stir up a lot of emotion. This will be my interpretation of scripture on this particular subject, but I am always sensitive to the views of others. This is one of those topics that I think is good if it gets us to dig into the scripture and have good discussion, but one that should never divide us. I also want you to know that as I write about what we might view as premature death that I have had people that I love who have died at a young age, some tragically. I am not even sure why I want to talk about this particular thing right now. To be honest, in a way I don't. However, for two reasons I shall. One is that for two days now the Lord has put this on my mind to write about and secondly because I hope this helps someone, many actually, with their view of God. To understand that He is a loving Father and One who does not enjoy seeing His children go through pain. (Be careful on how you interpret what I just said.)

I've read and heard a lot of sarcastic comments lately about God when it comes to recent catastrophic events, tragedy and death. I saw someone make a comment a couple of days ago of, "yea, thanks God for sending so much death," in reference to the recent deaths from the tornadoes and flooding. I also had a friend tell me not long ago that she had always viewed God as mean because of how He took loved ones away in death, especially at an earlier age. When I realized that I had a friend who had that view of God it broke my heart. So let's take a look. Where is God when it comes to a death due to sickness, accidents, shootings and really just tragedy in general? Are those things of God, and are they of His design? What caused death in the first place and was God connected to it? I would rather look to the Bible for this answer than anywhere or to anyone else.

So where did death come from and who was involved? You don't have to go very far in the Bible to get the answer. God had created a perfect environment for man to enjoy. He had given him the most fabulous place to live and the most beautiful garden that could be planted. There are are also two trees that come into play in this story. The tree of life which is the tree associated with experiencing the life and God, including immortality and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God basically told Adam that everything was good and everything was his to enjoy, except for one thing. "...but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." It was not God's heart from the beginning for man to experience death. Yet we know what happened. You can read the story in Genesis 3, but for the sake of space and time I will just say that when the transaction that allowed death to enter into the world was made..........GOD WAS NOT THERE. HE WAS NOT PART OF THAT TRANSACTION. I see satan in the form of a serpent and I see a couple of human beings. I do not see God.

Suddenly, everything has changed. Not only is there now a fallen people, but everything about the environment where people live also is changed. Most will agree that this is when death became of a part of life, but very seldom do we make note of how ALL of creation, including the earth and atmosphere underwent a violent flip. Not only was man messed up, but now there were laws of nature that were messed up, too. Creation seems to take on a personality when the Bible tells us that it became subjected to frustration and futility. I'll pick up in Romans 8:20 with the New Living Translation which reads, "But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God's children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time."

Please show me if I am overlooking something, but I cannot find anywhere in the new testament that leads me to believe that God desires for someone to die prematurely or tragically. Instead I see Jesus raising people from the dead. I do see some things happening in the old testament and BEFORE Jesus lived as a man, like where God caused the ground to open up and swallow people alive, or where He destroyed the earth with a flood. But those times were BEFORE Christ and always as a result of man's wickedness. When I've gone to a funeral of a loved one who died as a result of a "premature" death I've never said that God chose to take him or her. I just can't believe that. Where is the scripture to back up that kind of thinking? Show me examples from the Bible? Instead we live in what is sometimes a very cruel, but fallen world where horrible things can happen. However that doesn't mean it's God causing them to happen. Remember the transaction.

I don't see God causing these things, but instead I see God wanting to rescue us, even rescue us from the sting of death by way of the cross. I also know that God, because He is rich in mercy and grace will do His best to take a bad situation that has happened and try to make something good to come out of it. That's why we often hear about people coming to Jesus in the middle of tragedy.

You know what is weird about this for me? I woke up yesterday with this topic in my head. I didn't understand it. I didn't even mention it to my wife. But within a couple of hours as we were heading home to Pennsylvania for Mother's Day, my sister called to tell me that one of my cousin's lost his best friend due to an ATV accident. This man had a 10 year old daughter and I think he had a younger child also. I sure hope that nobody tells these children that God chose to take their dad, as I often hear well meaning people say.   So often we feel we need to be able to explain why, or even come up with reasons to explain God.

I want to say to this man's family, my cousin and all who have lost loved ones in tragic situations. God did not cause the loss of your loved one. It is the result of an imbalanced world and a groaning creation. God is extending His hand of love to you right now. Try with everything you have to hold onto Psalm 94:18.... "If I say, 'My foot slips,' Your mercy, O Lord, will hold me up. In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul." I believe that God's heart broke over His perfect creation becoming imperfect. I believe that the heart of the Father hurts when we hurt, just like a good dad feels grief when he watches his children struggle or are in pain. That's why the Psalmist wrote in his time of trouble, "Put my tears into Your bottle, are they not in Your book?" (Psalm 56:8) David understood that God cares and wants people to run towards Him, not run from Him because He is a mean God who takes loved ones a way. People will often say, wanting to be well meaning, that maybe God wanted or needed someone in His presence more than we needed them. Why? Psalm 90:4 says, "For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past, and like a watch in the night." So in God's eyes we will all be with Him in a blink anyway.

God operates in so many more realms than we could ever imagine. Just because God has the ability to see the number of our days and was able to allow the prophets and the writers of the scripture to foretell of earthquakes and famines; just because God has the ability to know of even coming disasters as the earth continues to shake, doesn't mean that he wanted them in the first place. Remember who was present during that ridiculous transaction that took place in the garden. God might have been watching, but He sure wasn't wanting for it to happen.

Today is not the day, but for those of you who visit here regularly you must know I so want to talk about how God wants us to realize the authority that He gives us in regards to some of the bad stuff in this life. To be bold and courageous, just like he commanded Joshua to be. The same Joshua who commanded the sun to stand still. I strongly hinted at that authority in "Not on my Watch."

For now, keep trusting Abba. He is a trusted friend!

Much love,
Mark S.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for exploring and writing this Mark. I myself am struggling with this. First my friend David and then Beth and now my stepdad just died. I never BLAME God but I do struggle with the reasons and question his "allowing" the timing etc....especially with Beth. I really still struggle a lot with her loss....