Stalked by Death
In the past seven days, I have been bombarded with reminders of the ever-present shadow of death upon us.
Three friends died (one was brutally murdered). A fourth, we suddenly learned, is dying of a brain tumor. A close relative escaped with only minor injuries from an automobile collision which totaled her vehicle.
I attended two funerals this week.
Usually, this many sad things do not happen this close together. When they do, I ponder the question: “why is there so much pain and suffering in this life?”
A thoughtful study of the Bible gives answers.
1. This is a fallen world. While some seem to suffer more than others, no one escapes suffering completely. Since sin and death entered creation, all suffer the consequences. Ultimately, we are delivered from this fallen condition only by death, which, for the believer in Jesus Christ, means entrance into eternal life. Paul writes:
22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. Romans 8:22-23 (ESV)
2 We often contribute to our own suffering. At least some of our suffering is caused by our own sin and stupidity. We do bring some of it on ourselves. Peter addresses that in I Peter 1:20a:
20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure?
3. Christians suffer for and with Christ for God’s glory. Peter goes on:
1 Peter 2:20-25
But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
Frankly, most of my suffering comes under categories 1 & 2 above. But whatever the cause of the suffering, it reminds us that we are not home yet. Let us press on in faith, following the one who suffered for us that we might, through Him, live to righteousness. Soon our adoption will be complete. Our bodies will be redeemed. That hope keeps me going when death stalks me.