“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15).
Two major news stories in the United States during the last week of December, 2004, involved death. One, of course, was global in scope, involving the huge earthquake and tidal wave in the Indian Ocean, which killed more than one hundred thousand persons and caused almost unbelievable damage in many countries. The other was probably not noticed much in other countries. It was the sudden, unexpected death of Reggie White, a former NFL football great, known also for his faith and ministry. Both events were covered widely, and millions of people were followed the stories with great interest. Not just because of death, but because of how and to whom death came.
Death is a universal, everyday experience. “It is appointed for men to die once” (Hebrews 9:27). For this reason, the “ordinary” death of most individuals is not particularly newsworthy or remarkable. Only when death comes to many people together, or to a true celebrity, or through some unusual or horrifying circumstance, does the world take notice.
But to those directly affected (family and friends) every death is important. We sorrow and grieve because of the personal loss; the more personal the loss, the greater the sorrow. Our loved ones are special and their deaths touch us deeply.
The Psalmist observes that even God reacts in this same way to our deaths. When “his saints” die, he notices and he takes it personally. Nowhere is this more plainly demonstrated than in John 11:35, when Jesus wept at the death of his friend Lazarus. Faithful Christians are God’s “family”. He loves us, and he cares about everything that happens to us.
Does this mean that God grieves at our death? Probably not, but it is an event of importance. It makes a difference to the eternal, almighty Creator. That is truly remarkable. It indicates just how much we matter. Human life is the greatest single component of this created universe. Nothing is as important. Nothing matters so much.
Jesus taught, “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-31).
The world may not really notice or care when we pass from this life. But God does. And that alone guarantees our worth.

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