1 Kings 14:12-13 “As for you, go back home. When you set foot in your city, the boy will die. All Israel will mourn for him and bury him. He is the only one belonging to Jeroboam who will be buried, because he is the only one in the house of Jeroboam in whom the Lord, the God of Israel, has found anything good.”
This story, and this verse in particular, have long stuck in my mind, because this expressly says that the death of a child was a reward to that child. That completely flies in the face of human expectation and understanding. We mourn death in general and the death of a child in particular, but here God is saying that this child would die because he alone in his family was pleasing to God. I would guess that I’ll see that child in heaven, but not any of his family. Our perspective on things is so distorted by our physical frame of reference. We are on this earth to get to know God and to choose to serve Him; absolutely everything else is secondary. We measure our lives in terms of material possessions or power and influence or even accomplishments, when the only thing that ultimately matters is whether we know God. God spoke to Jeremiah very clearly: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24) That’s on the side of things that we view as positive, but it applies to the things we view as negative as well: “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:17) Separation on this earth can be painful, and usually is, for those left behind, but it is a tragedy only if the one who dies does so without having joined the family of God.
One reason this issue is so clear for me is that when my father didn’t wake up from heart surgery a few days after his 64th birthday, my honest first response was, “He won’t have to retire.” He had been dreading being forced to retire and leave Japan, where he had served as a missionary for over half of his life, but God said, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Come on home.” I missed him drastically, but I never felt God was mean to him. At this point I’ve outlived him by almost five years, but that is a meaningless statistic. What matters is whether I am walking with God, doing what He wants for however long He wants me to be here.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You that I don’t have a “bucket list,” but rather a desire to be with You both now and throughout eternity. Thank You for making that possible through Jesus Christ my Lord. I do ask that You enable me to take as many as possible with me, that they too may experience Your salvation, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!