Times of uncertainty, like those we find ourselves in in the Spring of 2020, bring stress on both the believer and the unbeliever. For the one who believes in the Son, however, he knows that he has the assurance of God that he will share in His eternal life (1 John 5:11-13, John 6:47, Romans 8:38-39). So the Christ-follower does not share in the culture’s dread of sickness and death.
Far from it. Often his attitude is something more like Paul’s expressed in Philippians 1:21-26:
21For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. 23But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; 24yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. 25Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith, 26so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again.
Paul’s attitude is one of unconcern for himself, but compassion for his Church. If God wants him to continue in service, he’s good with that – it’s what God wants. If God wants to end his life, fine. God is saying “Your work for me is done.”
David Jeremiah[i], a pastor who has certainly been used by God to spread His word over the recent years here in San Diego and across the country, recently featured a message on his radio program in which he gives prominence to a quote that goes like this:
“A Man of God in the Will of God is immortal until His work on earth is done.” (Start around the 22:50 point in this linked audio.)
What’s the message here?
If you’re committed to God and He’s doing His work through you, He’s going to preserve you until your service to Him is done. Then you’re going to die and be drawn into His very presence to experience Him and His glory forever.
So is there something to be “worried” about? For the one devoted to the Lord, God provides the resources and peace to live, despite loss of job, illness or just loss of security (Mat 6:31-32, Phil 4:19).
We’re all going to die – we all spend our lives “on death row”. You’re going to die when you’ve completed the work God gave you (Philippians 2:12-13), and not a moment before, nor after.
In the meantime, like Paul, we need to be at ease with the future, whatever it may hold: unconcerned for ourselves so that we can be concerned for and serve others in need by using the abilities and opportunities He gives us to do so. God holds us in his outstretched hand. When the time comes, he will draw it, and us in it, back to Himself.
[i] I don’t care much for Jeremiah’s theology or eschatology. But he is a sincere Christ-follower and teacher, and so should be heard and respected.