“There is an appointed time for everything.
And there is a time for every event under heaven –
A time to give birth and a time to die…”
Here on this earth, our lives our bound by time. The earth turns. Seasons come; seasons go. One is born, while another dies. The day of one’s birth and the day of one’s death are two profound events over which man has little control.
I believe God did this – created mankind within the confines of time – to bear proof to us that we are ultimately not in control and that He ISreal. As human beings, we have a beginning and an end. Only God is eternal. We are all humbled by the mystery, the grace, and the gift of our own birth. We each take our turn and are humbly, naked born. And no matter how great the life we’ve lived, no matter how noble our accomplishments or how wizened our minds, we will all be humbled by the inevitability of our own death – the day, the hour, the moment, the circumstances of which none of us can predict nor entirely control.
Our lives as humans are “under heaven” within the confines of time. In contrast God is above heaven, seated on His throne, not bound by the confines of time, but instead eternally ruling over it. These are the lessons that time teaches us. Our lives on the earth rest in the sovereign, eternal control of God. Our times are in His hands. He has even determined the exact times and places in which we are to live.
Acts 17:26-28 (NIV) says, “From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek himand perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’”
Just think about it, at least one person is born every second in the earth, as simultaneously another person in the earth passes away. Within families, often one person of the older generation passes away at about the same time that a new baby enters the family. My own Grandpa passed away two weeks before our daughter Miriam was born. My Grandma passed away within a month after the births of her 7th and 8thgreat-grandchildren. Both these deaths and these new lives are a gift to us as families. They display for us the cycle of life and death, of coming and going from this earth, which becomes a continual reminder to us of how finite our lives really are and cause us to reach out for meaning in life beyond ourselves.
No matter what we believe about our origins, about God, or about religion, birth and death are realities from which we cannot escape, realities that point to the truth that there is One who is sovereign over the lives of men. I Timothy 6:13-16 says, “Icharge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will bring about at the proper time—He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.”
And this One is sovereign over more than just the days of our birth and death. For example, in Exodus 4:11 God says to Moses, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?” And Psalms 139:15-16 explains that as God skillfully wove together our frames in our mothers’ wombs, He ordained allthe days of our lives in His book.
Who determines our genetic make-up? Who determines if one is hearing or deaf, seeing or blind? Who determines the day of our birth, the day of our death? Who determines if one baby lives while another is miscarried? Who determines if one will be healed or give way to death? Who determines if one is to suffer or to be delivered (Hebrews 11)?
Who is the One that determined to bring my husband through the valley of deafness into a rebirth of hearing through the cochlear implant? And yet Who is the same One that is allowing a young pastor from our church fellowship (with a beautiful wife and young daughter) to be weakened to the point of death by cancer!?
Why!? Why does one suffer and another is delivered? Why does God say “Yes” to some and “No” to others? Why does God answer some prayers, but seemingly fail to answer others? Why at times does God appear to be silent, seemingly failing to give us the answers we’re looking for, the answers we so desperately need?
Because ALL of these circumstances – both the miraculous responses and the seemingly unanswered suffering – point to the glory of God and the fact that we are NOT in control! We are neither omniscient nor omnipotent. Godalone is. He IS the Great I AM that I AM, and He is beyond the explanation of man. He is eternal and sovereign and we are not. Our births, our deaths, all of the miracles and sufferings of our lives and all of the questions they bring ONLY point to the mystery, the power, the sovereignty of our eternal God. If we respond rightly, both the victories and the sufferings of life humble us to fall on our knees and acknowledge His greatness and our need of Him.
Consider Job’s response to his suffering: “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. He said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.’ Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God…Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” (Job 1:20-22 & 2:10b)
This kind of humble acceptance and sincere praise under such adversity can only come from one who personally knows this Sovereign God who determines the lot of our lives. If God is just some foreign entity that we don’t know, don’t understand, and don’t trust, then our lives will be filled with bitterness, anger, and confusion. But if we press on to seek God, to truly understand His character and His ways, to believe in Him, to rely on and follow Him, then regardless of life’s circumstances and the things we can’t explain – like Job – our lives can be marked by humble acceptance and grateful praise flowing from a heart filled with His peace and His joy, radiating His beauty and His glory.
The Bible tells us that Jesus is the only way to access this Sovereign One who created us and sets the boundaries of our lives. In John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” Philippians 2:5-11 explains how Jesus became our path to God the Father. “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Only Jesus died for you. Only the Son of God could become the sinless substitute for your and my sin. Salvation rests in Jesus alone. According to Romans 10:9-10, in order to be saved, one must sincerely believe in his heart that Jesus died for his sins, and that God raised Him back to life again; and one must confess with his mouth that Jesus is Lord. Belief in Jesus is good, but belief alone is not enough. The belief in your heart must be so certain that your lips profess His Lordship over your life and that your faith compels you to a lifelong pursuit of following Jesus. In Matthew 16:24, Jesus says to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” In John 8:12, Jesus says, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Mewill not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”
If this Jesus, who is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, the blessed and only Sovereign of our lives, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in inapproachable light, so humbled himself that He might die for us, how much MORE should we therefore, bow and humble our lives before Him!!!
We should stand in awe of Him and praise His name, accepting the day of our birth and the day of our death, with all of the good and the difficult aspects of life in between, as a gift from Him. A gift that reminds us of His very existence, of His awesomeness – eternal and sovereign – and of our utter desperateness on Him as finite human beings. Both the beautiful and the tragic aspects of life should draw us to seek after and abide in Him.
For he has not abandoned us in this desperate state without hope, for He himself has become our Hope! He who reigns above the heavens does not sit there aloof. He has revealed himself to us who live “under heaven.” He allowed himself to be subjected to the confines of time, to a humble birth and even more humble death, so that He could show us THE WAY to God the Father – so that He could BECOMEthe way to God our Father, Our Creator.
How GREAT is our God!!! Let us love, and praise, and trust, and serve Him with this span of life that He has given us!
“Now therefore, O kings, show discernment;
Take warning, O judges of the earth.
Worship the LORD with reverence
And rejoice with trembling.
Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry,
and you perish in the way,
For His wrath may soon be kindled.
How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!”
Psalms 2: 10-121
“How great is our God,
Sing with me, how great is our God.
All will see how great,
How great, is our God…
You are the first
You go before
You are the encore…
You are the everlasting God,
The everlasting God.
You do not faint, You won’t grow weary…
Glory in the highest!”
-Compilation of lyrics by Chris Tomlin