News of sickness and death is terrible

Rev. Raymond Maher

Yesterday, Ed asked me, “Why do nice people die early and scumbags last way too long?” I could not give him an answer. It does seem the death of the nice folks we know seems way too soon for our liking. Answers to why questions may never satisfy. I asked Ed, “Why does bad news seem to come in bunches like bananas?” He said that it was because bad news keeps growing while good news keeps disappearing like rain in dry weather.

Recently, Ed and Ruby were saddened to hear of the return of cancer to a good friend who lived only a few months. Their friend was both a nice person and too young to die in their opinion. It is a situation we all have wrestled with at various times. Death is not welcome in the lives of our friends or loved ones. I am not eager to face death myself, and I do not want death to take anyone else. Yet, death will never be satisfied while anyone lives. Death will have its day with us all.

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The book of Job in the Bible is a bad news account asking why do good people suffer? Job asserts, “Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He springs up like a flower and withers away; like a fleeting shadow, he does not endure. Man’s days are determined. You (God) have decreed the number of his months and set limits he cannot exceed.” Job 14:1,2,5

There is no denying in the book of Job that good people suffer, and none can escape death. God does not explain to Job why good people suffer. Job is reminded of God’s power and authority that cannot be fully understood by Job because of the significant difference and distance between them. Job confessed to God, “Surely, I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.” Job41:3

We live at a time of scoffers and doubters. Many see themselves as able to fully understand or reject God. They consider themselves as equal to God without difference or distance from God. They ignore God’s word that says, “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!” Romans 11: 33

Jesus experienced the death of a loved one, weeping at the gravesite of his friend Lazarus. Mary and Martha understood his power to heal people who were sick. Both sisters said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Jesus told Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Martha answered, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.” (John 11:25-27) Jesus did call Lazarus out of his tomb, and he came out alive after four days of death. Jesus came to Earth so the sadness and despair of death could be swallowed in his complete victory over death to eternal life. Because Jesus lives eternally, so shall we. (John 14: 19)

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