By Michael E. Brooks
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15).
Having frequently revisited the same countries, cities, and regions over a period of almost fifteen years, it is not surprising that some of the people with whom I have met, visited, studied, and worked are no longer in this world. The Hebrew writer reminds us, “it is appointed for men to die once” (Hebrews 9:27). James asks, “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14). Our own experience confirms that life is brief and death is certain. Yet this is not the same as saying that death is always tragic. Our mortality is simply opportunity for a much better life, in immortality, after this one is over. We are comforted and reassured by these beliefs (see 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
One of the greatest reassurances given to us in Scripture is the fact that God himself knows of our lives and deaths, and they matter to him. The Psalmist’s affirmation amazes us. Why should the eternal, immortal, all-powerful Creator take note of the death of a creature? Do we regard or mourn the passing of an insect or rodent? Does logic not suggest that we should be of no more importance to God than one of these would be to us? Logic may, but God’s own word does not. He knows us; he loves us; we matter.
Deaths in Bangladesh and Nepal over the past 14 years or so include that of brother Shah, above 90 years of age, who was the father of three gospel preachers, and grandfather to several more. The Tek Bahadur family of 12 was killed in a landslide in Nepal a few years ago (one 5-year-old son was spared). Noren Hasda’s teenage son died of fever (Noren is a preacher in northwest Bangladesh). One of our first rural preachers in Nepal, Daniel Soren, has met his Master. Norbu Senbo, faithful older preacher in the mountains of Nepal went to his reward several months ago. Not long ago we received word of a girl in Bangladesh about 8 or 9 years old, daughter of Christians, who died from snake bite.
These are but a few who have made the transition from life to better life. Their names and stories remind us of the certainty of death, and of the reality and importance of Christian brothers and sisters on the other side of the world, whose faces we will never see. They are precious in the sight of God, and so must be precious to us. Their faithful lives and hope of eternity bring us comfort and encouragement.
By Michael E. Brooks