Genesis 23:1-2: Not immunised
“Sarah lived to be a hundred and twenty-seven years old. 2 She died at Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went to mourn for Sarah and to weep over her. ” NIV UK
Believers may experience remarkable miracles during their life-times, but they have to die. In a fallen world like this is, we all have an appointment to keep with the grave. Christianity is not an immunisation against dying. People would want conversion for the wrong reason if it was. However, it does supply a glorious hope in the face of death. Death is not the end. The parting is temporary.
But we are not inoculated against dying. Nor are we vaccinated against the experience of bereavement, loss and pain. Shortly after the death of my first wife, I took my daughter and her friend to a theme park for the day. While they enjoyed the rides, I made my way around the beautiful gardens of the estate. It was a warm, sunny day, and it felt good to be alive. But in the fresh experience of a loss which came ‘out of the blue’, I just saw couples everywhere. I remember sitting on a bench and thinking, ‘But one day, this kind of loss is going to happen to everyone you see holding hands, walking side by side.’ It wasn’t that I wished it on anyone, but the realisation dawned on me that marriage truly is only for a finite amount of time. It is: ‘Till death us do part.’ And death steals up, and parts people. You might be Abraham, but you’re not immune.
The Bible never promises immunity from death, but if we trust in Jesus, ‘’the good shepherd’’ (John 10:14), we can assert: ‘’Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me’’ (Psalm 23:4).
So, when Sarah died, we are quite sure that the Lord shepherded her ‘’through the darkest valley’’ (as Psalm 23:4a) can read; and ‘’Surely’’ His ‘’goodness and love’’ followed Abraham all through the remainder of his days on earth, until he finally found himself also ‘’in the house of the LORD forever.’’
I can’t promise any believer the absence of trouble. I have no authority to say such a thing. But I can assure you, on the solid basis of Scripture, of the presence of God amidst earth’s darkest nights.
PRAYER: Thank you Lord for the comfort you give, which is very real, and can in turn be shared with others ( see 2 Corinthians 1: 3ff).