It’s a Wonderful Death

There is a death involved in our walk, but rather than one of despair that looks inward, it is a death that looks outward and brings life. 

May the day of my birth perish, and the night that said, ‘A boy is conceived!’ Job 3:3 

Why did you bring me out from the womb? Would that I had died before any eye had seen me. Job 10:18 

I have been re-reading Job and I can relate, in a very small way, to his wishing he had never been born. Sometimes the burden is too heavy; sometimes you just want it to be done. Job’s faith was tested to the utmost. He asked God, what was it all for? He was tempted to give up, to blame God, to “curse God and die” but he held fast. God was refining and testing Job, and, according to James 5:11, he passed the test.  

Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. 

But Job was not the only one to express this wish in the Bible. Jeremiah also cried out, Cursed be the day I was born! May the day my mother bore me not be blessed! (Jeremiah 20:14). And there were others, all who carried heavy, heavy burdens. 

Elijah: He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” 1 Kings 19:4 

Moses: I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me. Numbers 11:14-15 

Jonah: Now, LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live. Jonah 4:3 

Paul: I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. Philippians 1:23 

This, unfortunately, is a common feeling among the broken world’s inhabitants. If you have ever watched It’s a Wonderful Life, the movie starring James Stewart, you have seen this scene with the angel, Clarence: 

Clarence: So you still think killing yourself would make everyone feel happier, eh? 
George: Oh, I don’t know. I guess you’re right. I suppose it would have been better if I’d never been born at all. 
Clarence: What did you say? 
George: I said “I’d wish I’d never been born!” 
Clarence: Oh, you mustn’t say things like that. You…wait a minute. Wait a minute. That’s an idea. [glances up toward Heaven] What do you think? Yeah, that’ll do it. All right. [to George] You’ve got your wish. You’ve never been born. [snow stops falling and a strong gust of wind blows open the door] You don’t have to make all that fuss about it. 
 

In the end, Clarence is able to show George that living his life had been worthwhile and fruitful. What George had dismissed as small acts of love and kindness had had a ripple effect that resulted in hundreds of sailors being saved from death, and in hundreds of poor people getting a chance at a good life. While the story is fanciful, the message is good. Many of the stories in the Bible have a similar message. 

Joseph, after spending years in prison and servitude, was able to say to his persecutors: 

But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Genesis 50:19-20 

I have a deep sense of gratitude to those who have gone before us, suffering but remaining faithful. Like Abraham and what he went though, his clinging to faith as he obeyed God in leaving his homeland for an unknown destination, and in being willing to sacrifice his only son. He did not know that he later would be held up as an example to us of God-pleasing faith.  

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans 15:4 

And look at Job. Though Job didn’t know what was going on at the time, for thousands of years struggling believers have been encouraged and inspired by what he went through. Job never knew that Handel would write the stirring aria, I Know that My Redeemer Liveth, which would inspire generations. But that is what is birthed out of testing and temptation, testing endured and persevered in naked faith. Assurance, trust, knowing, maturity in ourselves, but also life for others. For there is a death involved in our walk, but rather than one of despair that looks inward, it is a death that looks outward and brings life. 

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me. Philippians 1:21-26 

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. 2 Corinthians 4:7-12 

Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. John 12:24 

Image in the Public Domain

Author: wrestlingwordblog

I am a retired librarian and emeriti from Western Michigan University. I am married with three grown children and three grandchildren. I love digging for treasure in the Word.

2 thoughts on “It’s a Wonderful Death”

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