By Shane Kastler
God works all things for His glory. And He does this regardless of whether or not we see or understand what He is doing. Every life is different; and everyone isn't given the same amount of years on earth. But God reigns sovereignly over your life. And over your death. Though man is still responsible for his actions and everything he does. God's reign is supreme and the Bible says He “works all things after the counsel of His will.” (Ephesians 1:11)
This can be seen in the death of some of the early disciples. In Acts 12 we are told that the disciple James was executed by Herod. And when he saw the people like it, he proceeded to arrest Peter as well. His plan was to also kill Peter, but God's plan was different. The Bible records: “On the very night when Herod was about to bring him forward, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and guards in front of the door were watching over the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter’s side and woke him up, saying, “Get up quickly.” And his chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Gird yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” (Acts 12:6-8 NASB)
While the circumstances looked absolutely hopeless; the will of God was that Peter not be executed at this time. God sent an angel and busted him out of prison. In this event, we see God's hand at work and we rejoice for Peter's deliverance. But what about James? What do we make of his “death by sword”? In both cases we see God's plan being worked out. God planned for James to die at that time. But He planned for Peter to live several more years. Yet, Peter also would die a martyr's death. Jesus foretold that one day Peter would be “stretched out” and taken to a place he didn't want to go, which is a reference to crucifixion. (see John 21:18-19) James was killed now. Peter would be killed later. And both deaths fulfilled God's will. Because in both deaths (and in both lives) God was glorified.
You might have felt really bad for James if you had been there. Undoubtedly the church mourned his passing. Yet, we should let the mourning be tempered with the reality that James entered into Heavenly glory. His suffering had ended and eternal comfort had come. And so it shall be for all who die “in Christ.”
Do you know Christ as Lord of your life? Are you daily following Him as evidence of your professed salvation? If so, then fear not when considering the future. You will one day die. But if you die as a believer you are greatly blessed. The circumstances of your death matter little. The destination after death matters much. Trust in Christ and long for your Heavenly home.