Have you ever been to a funeral for someone your own age, or someone close to your own age? I assume most of our readers are millennials (18-35 or so), so to see someone die at our age means they died very young. Most of us would agree that by normal accounting, someone our age shouldn’t be dying already. But, we do. We aren’t immortal, we are subject to the same disasters and diseases that will kill the rest of us eventually. Still, the younger the person is, the harder it is to fathom that they are gone forever. That they cease to exist on earth except in our memories. When someone so young or so beloved dies, we often ask why. Why did this person “deserve” to die? How could God be so cruel? How could a loving God allow such a terrible thing to happen?
The last question is the one I want to focus on. How could a loving God allow such a terrible thing to happen? How could he let a child, or a teenager, or a young adult die? Cause God obviously knows how horrible death is!! He knows that its literally the worst possible thing in the universe!! How could he allow the most horrible thing that could possibly ever happen happen to somebody who it shouldn’t happen to?
The reason people “blame” God is because there is a difference in how we see death, and how God sees death. In fact, death literally means two different things to us and God. Think about what Adam and Eve were told in Genesis. If they eat of the forbidden tree, they would surely die. But they didn’t, at least not from the fruit. They eventually did die after living for hundreds of years, but this death is still not what God meant.
We see death as final, painful, and scary. Painful because of some of the means of physical death. Final because it is the end of life on this earth, the end our physical existence. It is scary because we have no evidence of what happens afterward. There hasn’t been any concrete evidence of someone coming back and being able to tell us what death itself actually feels like, or what happens after you leave the physical world, leave your body. To our brains which have only evidence and experience in the physical world, where fact and truth are based on evidence, something unknown yet certain to happen is terrifying (a side effect of our natural will to survive).
But, even as death can be painful and scary, is not birth also painful and scary? Yet life cannot begin without it. And as much as we see death as something final and terrifying, it is necessary. God knows this. And he allows death because to him it is merely a transition. He has no qualms about his children experiencing physical death. It is temporary if it is painful. It is nothing more than the severance of the link that ties us to physicality. Once death occurs, we are no longer tied to the requirements of the body. But to God, even this is not true death.
If we believe in Christ, physical death is merely an ending of a phase. A wearing out of the body. It is not true death. Christ came to give us life “more abundantly.” That means to have more of it. To live longer. Again, not physically. We are promised eternal life through Christ, but that life does not exist eternally on this earth and in this body.
This ceasing to exist on earth, this physically painful, scary experience that we are subject to is not death. Death is separation from the presence of God, physical death does the opposite.
This separation from God is the death he promised Adam and Eve, before they fell they actually walked and spoke directly with God. This is the same death Christ experienced (while physically dying on the cross) when he cries out “Why have you forsaken me?” To God, this is the only real death. And it is the definition of Hell itself.
So naturally, physical death (scary and painful as it may be) is no sweat to God. How and when are merely subject to what he intends for us to do while we are on earth before we leave it. The only death that really concerns God is the spiritual death of separation.
Many are asking “Well doesn’t God subject his children to that too? How is that any better than allowing a child or someone young to die physically?”
The difference is in that one death is voluntary on our part, and one is not. Physical death will happen, no matter what. Only two people have actually foregone death (Enoch and Elijah were carried off of earth, they never experienced actual death). We will die physically, we have no say in that matter. But, we do have a choice in whether or not we die spiritually. This is the whole point of sending Christ, to make a way for us to choose our own fate after we leave physicality. How can we say God “subjects” us to a fate when we have a choice in the matter?
Losing a loved one, especially when they are young, is painful to us. Mourning and sadness is natural. But blaming God for death, and treating physical death as if it is the worst possible occurrence in the universe comes from selfishness and ignorance. Real death (spiritual death) should not be feared either. It is avoidable, and it is avoidable because of a sacrifice made by God himself.