July 22, 2014

Isaiah 57:1-2 The righteous perish,
and no one ponders it in his heart;
devout men are taken away,
and no one understands
that the righteous are taken away
to be spared from evil.
Those who walk uprightly
enter into peace;
they find rest as they lie in death.

I had been aware of the story of Abijah the son of Jeroboam dying young because “he is the only one in the house of Jeroboam in whom the Lord, the God of Israel, has found anything good,” (1 Kings 14:13) but I hadn’t had a clear fix on this passage, which is even more explicit. The thing is, physical death isn’t always bad news. I well remember my first response to being told that my father hadn’t waked up after heart surgery a few days after his 64th birthday: “He won’t have to retire.” His death was rough on my mother, but it wasn’t rough on him. We tend to treat death as a tragedy every time, when actually it is a tragedy only for those who are not rightly related to their Creator. My wife had an experience of being absent from her body when her heart stopped, 40 years ago now, and what she experienced has made her eager to go back ever since! The Lord was gracious to me and our daughters and sent her back to us, but she certainly has no fear of death at this point. We fear death only because we don’t understand eternity, and/or we don’t know the Savior who has conquered death.

I deal constantly with those who are dying, because we all are! Our physical bodies are temporal, and we’ve got to accept that. It is a tragedy when people won’t accept it, and especially when they won’t accept the only way past it. My commission and my privilege is to tell people that a guaranteed victory over death is available to them, and that it also brings more peace, joy, and satisfaction to their present life than they could imagine. It is indeed heartbreaking when they refuse that offer. Right now I’m dealing with a brother in Christ who has just received a very unexpected diagnosis of terminal liver cancer. He has amazing peace, and even joy. I do pray for miraculous healing for him, because I covet his testimony, his work in the Body of Christ, but it is very easy to entrust him to God. He and I both know that God’s plans for him are the very best.

Father, I do pray for my brother, and I thank You for for the peace and joy I saw in him yesterday. I do pray for Your healing touch, and I stand on his behalf against every strategy of the enemy that would try to thwart Your plans for him. I pray that however long you keep him here, whether it is years or even days, that he would be effective as Your witness, touching lives and drawing them into Your family, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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