Have you ever heard the phrase, “only the good die young”? Actually, there is a bit of biblical truth to that saying. You may not have realized this, but the Bible explains that there are times when God may choose to have a righteous, upright person die. And even if we can’t understand why, through our limited human understanding, it may, in fact, be an act of Godly mercy. It may be that God is bringing them into eternal glory early to spare them from evil; allowing them to enter peace and find rest from this life. Isaiah lays it out like this in chapter 57, verses 1 and 2, which says:
“The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.”
These verses brings to mind the persecuted church; believers who are tortured and imprisoned because of their faith in Christ. Could it be that God may give many of these believers rest from their persecution by taking them home to be with him? Right before Stephen was stoned to death for his faith, the Bible says that he “looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God”. That sounds like an infinitely better destination than what he was about to face. And God knows that for some, bringing them into heaven before evil, such as this, can befall them is a mercy as well as a blessing, allowing them to enter into peace and find rest. So when you hear of a good and upright person dying young, consider that it might be that God is calling them home to spare them from evil. This may cause us pain as we mourn for them, but it could be nothing less than the merciful love of our God in action.
When faithful, upright believers unexpectedly die, it can be difficult for us to understand. We inevitably ask “why”; why did something so bad have to happen to someone so good and so young? It could be that it rains on the just and the unjust alike; that bad things just happen sometimes, no matter how righteous or good we might be. Or it might be part of God’s plan; that God’s ways are higher than our ways and for some reason that we can’t yet see, a greater good is planned to come out of such a tragedy. Or, it could be what Isaiah outlined in chapter 57. It could be that out of God’s love and mercy, he is sparing that person from impending evil, and bringing them into a place of peace and rest. In any case, God is the potter and we are the clay. It isn’t our place to question his sovereignty. Our job is to place our trust in him even in the midst of tragedy. Our job is to have faith that he knows what is best.