Friday, August 31, 2007

Conversation about death...

I had a discussion last week with several people. It began by an innocent comment involving the timing of a person's death. Now, I don't mean to step on anyone's toes at all. That is not my intention. The woman who made the surprising comment is a godly woman who I admire greatly and respect her even more. It had never dawned on me that she held this particular viewpoint. What is it you ask?!

The comment which had been made was, "Well, if our son were to die over in Iraq then I know that he would have died that same moment here at home. The Lord would have just used a different medium to accomplish His desired will." My friend then responded, "Well, God knows when you are going to die but I don't believe He has planned it. Since He knows the beginning from the end He knows when you are going to die."

I asked her if she had any Biblical support to back up her reasoning. She never really shared any, other than she did mention Hezekiah asking the Lord for 15 more years at the time of his near death. Of course, I had intended to use Hezekiah for one of my sources. :) (2 Kings 20:5-6)

I thought for a minute as other people were throwing out questions. Then I shared, "It seems to me that God Who, according to Acts, has "determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live," [Acts 17:26 NIV] would be in control of the times people die. Furthermore, I do believe that in Psalm 139: 16 it states very clearly, "All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." I went on and shared that God is so precise to know the number of the hairs on our head (Matthew 10:30) why wouldn't he also determine the day of your death?

The more I thought about it the more convinced I became. After all, God is not a god of confusion. Why would He be so careful about where you live, how many hairs He places on your head but not care about the detail of your death? Finally I thought, "God planned His own Son's birth thousands of years before He was ever born and prophesied when that would be. He also planned His exact hour of death. If God planned His birth and death why wouldn't He plan our births and deaths? Ours just aren't prophesied like Jesus' was."

I guess the above is why I believe that it isn't cancer that kills someone, nor is it a car crash, or war or any other act that is so often associated with death. When a person dies it is their appointment with God. God may have used the car crash, or the cancer or the "whatever" to accomplish His divine will, but He alone is the one who calls us before Him.

That for me, brings such comfort. However, I can understand why some people may not be so comforted with these thoughts. Hebrews 9:27 makes it very clear that it "is appointed to man to die once and then comes judgment..." My friend, if you are one who has not trusted Christ for your future won't you please do it now?

15 comments:

PILGRIM PALS said...

Now, HONESTLY, I AM going to bed right now!!!

Pilot Mom

passing-thru said...

GOOD NITE -- don't let the bed bug bites --

GOOD TO SEE U up and about , bringing depth and experience and blessings to us in here

A quick Hi to Terry,Saija,Vicki,Susanwalkergirl,Heb,Prayinsensfan,Felisol,Donna,Arlene,Heather,Claire,Lauramae,Julie,Jel,Lil M,LisaJ,Carol,Mom and Dad Golden,Leo,Richard, our David,Terry's Betty, Donna's Jennifer, The List goes on -- Lord Bless U All Today ---

passing-thru said...

The previous comment CUT OFF alot of the names ! will try again - lol
A quick hi to
Terry, Saija, Susanwalkergirl
Heb, Prayingsensfan, Felisol
Lil M, Claire, Vicki
Donna, Lauramae, Julie sweet insp
Terry's Betty, Donna's Jennifer
Claire's Leo , Vicki's Richard
Felisol's Gunnar and Serina
NOW - HAVE A GREAT DAY IN GOD --

passing-thru said...

Aaaah ----and our David and Carol too -- am praying

Felisol said...

Dear Pilgrim Pal,
you are quoting Psalm 139, my favourite psalm, and I'm confident every word there speak the truth.
Nevertheless, why should we pray for help in danger and recovery from illness, if things were all so firmly settled?
Why should the doctor not be allowed to "put a patient out of its misery" or a child play with a gun?
I not very well read, but I've also did discuss this theme with my father. He meant (it all comes down to interpretation) that Isaiah shows God can change his mind, God listens to our prayers. I don't believe in desteny, I believe in a living, compassionate God, who cares, hears and sees.
Why else should we pray for our loved ones or for ourselves.
God wants us to pray as Vicki so clarely said.
I just have to entrust my loved ones and myself in the hands of the living God.
And as the Bible says not give meself any rest when I'm reminding God of his promises.
Then I'll have to pray for strength to accept the answer He's giving.
Isaiah 38
Hezekiah's Illness
1 In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, "This is what the LORD says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover."
2 Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, 3 "Remember, O LORD, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes." And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

4 Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah: 5 "Go and tell Hezekiah, 'This is what the LORD, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life. 6 And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city.

7 " 'This is the LORD's sign to you that the LORD will do what he has promised: 8 I will make the shadow cast by the sun go back the ten steps it has gone down on the stairway of Ahaz.' " So the sunlight went back the ten steps it had gone down.

9 A writing of Hezekiah king of Judah after his illness and recovery:

10 I said, "In the prime of my life
must I go through the gates of death [a]
and be robbed of the rest of my years?"

11 I said, "I will not again see the LORD,
the LORD, in the land of the living;
no longer will I look on mankind,
or be with those who now dwell in this world. [b]

12 Like a shepherd's tent my house
has been pulled down and taken from me.
Like a weaver I have rolled up my life,
and he has cut me off from the loom;
day and night you made an end of me.

13 I waited patiently till dawn,
but like a lion he broke all my bones;
day and night you made an end of me.

14 I cried like a swift or thrush,
I moaned like a mourning dove.
My eyes grew weak as I looked to the heavens.
I am troubled; O Lord, come to my aid!"

15 But what can I say?
He has spoken to me, and he himself has done this.
I will walk humbly all my years
because of this anguish of my soul.

16 Lord, by such things men live;
and my spirit finds life in them too.
You restored me to health
and let me live.

17 Surely it was for my benefit
that I suffered such anguish.
In your love you kept me
from the pit of destruction;
you have put all my sins
behind your back.

PILGRIM PALS said...

Felisol, I so agree with you that God is a God of compassion! He is infinitely caring and loving to us, His weak, weak creation.

I am not discounting at all the need for us to pray. We have no idea when anyone's time to die is. Only the Lord knows that. As far as I know, Hezekiah is the only one who had his life extended. Lazarus was the only one brought back from death.

I am not saying that God is not merciful and unable to change His mind. Not at all.

I am saying that a person could be at the brink of death and God heals that person. God did not take that person home. Yes, it certainly would build up the faith of the believers who would have been praying. We won't know here this side of heaven.

But, I still cannot get pass what Psalm 139:16 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." [NASB]

My intention isn't to argue but to present another viewpoint, hopefully, supported by scripture. I do know that there isn't anything that is outside of God's sovereignty. If there is then God is simply not sovereign. If God is not sovereign, then God is not God. Human freedom can never restrict the sovereignty of God. That is what sovereignty is all about. If God's sovereignty is restricted by man's freedom, then God is not sovereign; man is sovereign. God is free. I am free. God is more free than I am. If my freedom runs up against God's freedom, I lose. His freedom restricts mine; my freedom does not restrict His.

I hope I have not offended you. That was not my intention as I mentioned early on in my post. And, really, does it matter at all to the core doctrine of the church? No. This would be right there along side whether a person immerses or sprinkles for baptism. Is it going to divide the Christian church? No. As long as we are on the same page, doctrinally, on Who Jesus is and what He has done for us, and the only way to the Father, is through Christ alone, then it's okay to view this particular stance differently from each other.

I am certainly not going to allow this to interfere with my relationship in Christ with you. And, I would hope you wouldn't allow our differences in the "not essential" issues to affect your relationship with me. :)

Now, have I just muddied the water even more? I pray I didn't!! I am not a confrontational person. I usually run...far, far away from confrontations. And, I didn't mean to come across as confrontational. If I did, then would you please forgive me? (((Felisol)))

PILGRIM PALS said...

Again, I forgot I was in Pals and I didn't sign my name. That post above is once again from me!

Pilot Mom

PILGRIM PALS said...

And, I totally spaced out...Lazarus was not the only one brought back from death...the daughter of the guy (I can't think of his 'title' right now) who was healed (Centurian?) from a distance and brought back to life...as well as a couple of other miracles. My bad. Sorry.

Pilot Mom

Felisol said...

Dear Pilot Mom,
you have not offended me in any possible way. You've only done me well.
Guess I am the one who might be called confrontational, but that was not my intention either.
On the contrary, I love you Pilot Mom, and I cannot praise highly enough the support you have given me and mine. (And other Pilot Pals)
As I said I am not very much Bible read (have read it entirely two times in my youth). Now I'm a succer for comforting words, the Psalms, Isaiah, Job, St. John, the letters of St. Paul and the Revelations are where I enjoy to stay.

Actually I do not even belong to any church, because, well, I find it hard to totally identify with all of the churches opinons.. I go to church, though, the one Serina and Gunnar have chosen, the Norwegian Lutheran Church, and I am fine with that.
I even was allowed to be Serinas Godmother when she was babtized.
I actually demanded it. I was the one nearest to pray for her and rise her in the Christian belief.
I don't for a second think that my belief is the only right, because there is no such thing as monopol on Christ.
I guess I only think different.
And I love you dearly!
Yours Felisol On The Far Side Of The Sea

PILGRIM PALS said...

Felisol you bring joy to my day! I can assure you, you were not being confrontational. And, you know, it can be difficult at times to convey voice tone and facial expressions through such a mundane act as typing. I do believe that the Pals group does an excellent job though on trying to express emotion into our typing. :)

I am continuing to pray for Serina. I pray she will respond quickly to the medicine. And, I pray that you will be able to sleep tonight!

Lisa J. said...

Hi Friends,

This is an interesting post and interesting comments! The subject of God's sovereignty can lead to very heated discussions and has been the cause of church splits and bitter divisions. I don't see that here, though. Just some good discussion!

I just want to add some thoughts. The story of Hezekiah is so fascinating to me. We see God extending mercy and exercising patience with Hezekiah in granting the 15 years and even proving the healing with the shadow moving back. (I can't believe Hezekiah asked for a sign!)

But...Hezekiah's 15 grace years were filled with foolishness and pride when he showed off everything to the Babylonians. And selfishness when it was revealed to Hezekiah that because of his foolishness, everything he bragged on and even some of of his sons would be taken away. He didn't care because he knew that it wasn't going to happen directly to him.

And finally, you'll notice that Manasseh was 12 years old when Hezekiah died and he became king. Manasseh, one of the most evil kings - perpetrator of some of the most evil deeds, was born to Hezekiah in those extra 15 years.

I believe in the absolute sovereignty of God, so I don't question the 'change of mind' in the healing of Hezekiah. But I do hesitate to use Hezekiah as an example of God healing and adding years. If Hezekiah had the foresight, maybe he wouldn't have asked for those years. The greater mercy to him and for Israel might've been to have died when God said he was going to.

And yet, God exercises all of his attributes perfectly, so...

This is why Hezekiah is fascinating. I can't wrap my little mind around it and I think it is too confusing to use as a proof-text or even really as a comfort. But, that's just me...

passing-thru said...

Just read the comments Ladies -- and U both did a great job of sharing thoughts and EXPRESSING CHRISTIAN LOVE
LORD BLESS AND THIS IS THE TRUTH - GOD IS SOVEREIGN

Vicki said...

Thoughtful post, Pilot Mom. We may not understand it all, but we can trust our God is good, Sovereign, and loving in all His ways. That's the bottom line. The bible is pretty clear that our times are in His hands, that we will each face an appointed time with Him. If we don't understand that, we can just spend some time in His Word and check it out. That doesn't mean we stop praying...in fact, if anyone is sick, needs healing, needs wisdom--God tells us to pray.

Felisol, this tender subject is one that great theologians have debated and still don't understand completely, so I doubt my words will explain much. We're mere humans who only know in part right now, and God's ways are not our ways...

What we *do* know is that God's Word tells us to pray "without ceasing"...to stay in communion with Him. God gives us this beautiful invitation to join Him in His work in our midst, by praying and encouraging one another to believe/trust Him for our needs. Now, we don't necessarily have to understand how prayer works to do it. It's not how strong we pray, but WHO we pray to, and put our trust in. The flip side of prayer is that He wants to work in our hearts. He will even change how we pray, and constantly intercedes for us.

Ah, yes, prayer does a lot more than we can possibly comprehend; it stirs up the heavenlies--yes, it builds our faith---yes, but even though we may pray hard, we understand that the will of God will reign over our lives. The more we pray and get in sync with the Spirit, the more we pray like Jesus.

I think to understand God's Sovereignty is to accept the way He chooses to bring glory to Himself.

We may think a healing will bring the most glory, for instance, and SO many times He DOES heal and we rejoice! But what if God chooses to delay healing? Does it mean He didn't hear us, or that we did something wrong? No. This is when God has supernaturally sustained an individual with incredible peace and grace which is another reason we rejoice, because THAT is His life being made manifest in an individual. Glory to God!

If our prayers aren't answered the way we desire, we keep looking to God! We keep praising Him! Faith is believing what we don't see, what we don't understand, and we will begin to trust Him even more with the unknowns until the time He brings us home. Remember, the Scriptures tell us that to die is gain, because we have Christ!

Our Heavenly Father will not always deal with us like Hezakiah, but He will deal lovingly with us.

Let's give our hearts unreservedly to Him, as the saints and martyrs of old have done (and are still doing in other countries). We love Him because He first loved us!

God bless you all.
{{Hugs}}

Vicki said...

I'm so sorry to ramble that long...goodness! :-)

Pilot Mom said...

Lisa, I often wonder too about what if Hezekiah had not asked for the extra years. He might have finished the course well. But alas...

And, Vicki, thank you for your added comments. They are rich in truth and depth.

There are many things we will not know until we are Home with Him.

I also believe that there are many things we are NOT to know now. God does not need us to know and understand anything He does. Our finite minds are so limited.

But we can know and TRUST in faithfulness to answer us for our VERY best! Let us rest in that! :)