Danny, a man I graduated high school with, 30 years old. He had battled leukemia for several years, and I woke up Monday to a slew of Facebook posts notifying everyone of his death early that morning.
This news hung over my heart like a gray cloud, and I found myself almost coming to a point of anger and exasperation with God. This man was a good, upright, godly man. He was the pastor at a local church, with a genuine love for God, a passion to see people fall in love with Christ, and a desire to shepherd the people of his church in an intelligent, doctrinally sound, relevant way. He was young, with his whole life ahead of him and so many opportunities to glorify the name of Jesus in big ways. He had a wife and two very young sons. He was doing really great things. Even using his suffering with cancer as a testimony to the greatness of God.
And God let him die.
Thinking about his poor widowed wife and two fatherless children, I turned to my own husband and said, "I know I probably shouldn't even say these words, but it makes me angry that God wouldn't save him." We know another man with a wife and two young children who has done a tremendous amount of terrible things over the past year, who has committed evil after evil and treated people who love him in unbelievably awful ways. I am ashamed to admit that I wanted to know why God would let the very good man die and the very bad man live. Where was the justice?
But my wise husband responded to my question with truth. He said, "I understand what you are thinking, but there is a problem with that view. You are looking at death as a punishment, but for Danny it was the greatest reward."
So Danny is free from the burdens of this life now. He is free from the suffering and pain of the leukemia that ate away at his body. He is free from sorrow, sickness, struggle. He is free from worry, fear, loneliness, weariness, uncertainty, heartache. He can now see the purpose of all that he experienced in his short time here; he can now see the glory that was prepared for him through his suffering. He is standing in the presence of the One who created him, who knows everything about him, and he is standing there in wholeness and with assurance, not worrying about whether he is good enough to stand there. He knew he wasn't and could never be. He is standing there because he loved and trusted in the only One who was good enough to stand there, and that One, Jesus, graciously and freely gave him the right to His inheritance.
That doesn't erase the pain and sadness that are experienced by the people left here to mourn his death. And it shouldn't. But it does change my perspective. Danny knew that this earth wasn't his home, and now he is in that home he was longing for. If I truly understand that, then my heart should ache out of envy.
The sorrow that his family and close friends are now experiencing is not meaningless. It is being used by a good and loving Father to shape and prepare their hearts, to make them into the men and women He created them to be. And I pray that God will give each of these people, especially his wife and sons, what they need during this time. I pray that He might use me and others to be the means of meeting some of those needs.
But one thing I know for certain, this man has been made perfect now, and it is only because of Jesus. This man has been made perfect now, and it has made me a little less content with this world. This man has been made perfect now, and his death will bring about God's glory in ways we don't even understand. For these things, I am thankful.
"Pray for God's name to be glorified through all of this.