Earlier this summer I attended a funeral for an acquaintance. This person died from an incurable disease before the age of 50 and left behind a spouse and children. Funeral services were held in a church of a mainline Christian denomination, and it was made known that this person had a credible profession of faith in Jesus Christ. I'm being vague about the details because I want to make sure that this post is not personal. My goal is to address what I perceive to be a larger problem in today's Christian Church.
At multiple times during the funeral service the statement was made that God did not want the deceased person to die. I distinctly remember this statement being made by a surviving minor child and affirmed by one of the church officials. I was not only shocked when I heard it, but I was also doubly shocked when I heard it affirmed more than once.
I don't know from experience, but I would imagine that losing a parent as a young child is incredibly difficult, extremely painful, and confusing. But this fact does not allow anyone to deny the attributes of God. God's sovereignty is undeniable. If a person on earth dies that God did not want to die, then that means that something is more powerful than God, and He is not in control; and if God is not in complete control, then He is not God and our faith is in vain. Without proper thinking of God, especially during times of affliction, this child (as well as others) may become bitter and either stay immature in their beliefs or leave Christianity altogether.
So, did God plan for this person to die? Yes. God knows everything about all people (Psalm 139:1-6). All things are upheld by the Word of Jesus' power (Heb. 1:3) and God has put all things in subjection under Jesus' feet (Heb. 2:8). Christians are comforted by the fact that "all things work together for good to them that love God," (Rom. 8:28). It's important also to remember and reflect on God's Word when we're in prosperity as well as adversity. While we are Christians here on earth, we won't understand all that God does: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts," (Isa. 55:8-9).
Sin entered the world through the first man Adam (Rom. 5:10), and therefore, "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God," (Rom. 3:23). The Apostle Paul tells us that that "the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord," (Rom. 6:23). Therefore, death is a fact of life; all people die. And all people die according to God's plan for their life, whether they are a believer or unbeliever. But those who believe in the accomplished of work of Jesus Christ on the cross can have eternal life. Eternal life with Christ is the important life, not temporal life here on earth (2 Cor. 4:17-18). Our life is a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away, (James 4:14).
This person did not work their way into God's favor so that God owed them a long, pain-free life. God, in His mercy, saved this person from their sins, and He healed their sickness--not in the way that some would have liked, but in His own perfect timing.
"O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen," (Rom. 11:33-36).