At the outset, let me state that it is impossible to know the mind of God. Our human minds are just not equipped to do so.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55: 8-9
The reflections below are solely those of the author, who like most humans, has wondered about this issue from time to time, especially when a loved one passes away.
Humans have the tendency to look on death as a tragedy, a sad occurrence, because we will be deprived of the presence of someone who was important to us, maybe the central figure in our lives.
Yet, perhaps this is a selfish point of view and we should try to look at death from the perspective of the deceased.
I believe that, just as we cannot grasp the infinite perfection of God, neither can we comprehend the glory of His home in heaven. It must be a beautiful and joyous place, completely beyond our ability to describe or understand.
However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.”
2 Corinthians. 2:9
If the sick person is a baby or young child who is suffering from a terminal disease, death may be a gift of love and compassion from the Creator. The little one would be lifted out of an environment of pain and suffering into the eternal light and happiness of heaven. He may open his eyes wrapped in the warmth and comfort of Jesus’ loving arms. Could those who love him truly want to recall him to his previous state?
If the deceased was elderly, the family may be equally saddened, even though they know that death is inevitable for everyone, as the legacy of our first parents. Older people themselves, as have we all, probably committed many sins during their lifetime.
However, God is a loving Father. He undoubtedly gives everyone many chances to turn to Him and repent. If the dying person was unconscious . who knows what transpired between God and that soul in the moments before death?
Remember the Bible story of the good thief, who died on the cross beside Jesus? The convicted man asked Jesus to remember him when He entered the heavenly kingdom.
Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43
It is often difficult to accept the death of those who pass away in the prime of life, but again, we cannot read the mind of God. Perhaps they had accomplished all they were meant to do on earth. Perhaps death saved them from a terrible event or decision which may could have cost them their salvation. From God’s point of view, a few lost years on earth are less than the blink of an eye in eternity.
Jesus Himself, who is God, experienced death in the prime of life. Knowing perfectly well what lay ahead of Him the next day, after supper on Holy Thursday, He comforted His friends with these words:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
John 14: 1-3
If we reflect on these words, they should inspire us to entrust both ourselves and our loved ones into the outstretched, loving arms of God, no matter at what age or stage of life that final illness strikes.