My mom was a kind and wise woman. That being said, she was human. Why do I bring this up? It is not because I stand poised to complain and reveal anything against her. On the contrary, I could not have asked for a nicer mother. But I have already experienced the tendency to elevate my daughter to non-Biblical sainthood upon her early death, and I have seen signs of the same with my mom. I believe she would be frustrated with this, because she would want her whole life to point to the grace and power of Jesus Christ, not to her own achievements.
She would want us to remember that Romans 3:23, but having hope in Ephesians 2:1-10. It is not by any power or goodness of our own, but Philippians 1:6. She would not see the timing of her death as any indication that she was more worthy or more holy than any Christian believer that has lived longer or shorter, that has gone before or been left on this earth a while longer.
We cannot know why God chooses to take some of us home to him sooner than others. We cannot say that they have somehow “been diligent or good enough” so they get to graduate. Only God truly understands the work he has here for each of us, why our days are numbered as they are. If my mom had lived longer, would we have considered ourselves any less blessed to have had her in our lives? Would we have thought of her as having a lesser status for being on this earth longer? Is my one daughter’s death a message to my other children that they somehow don’t measure up to God’s standards quite yet? I think the answer to all of these questions is a resounding, “No.”
Let us, in our efforts to comfort ourselves and make sense of our losses, not fall into misconceptions that obscure the truth and discourage the living. It is akin to telling someone that if they “just had enough faith” they could be healed, prosperous, or loved. My mom’s mom died at the grand old age of 94, after living over 30 years with paralysis and extreme pain below her waist. I know that she, too, was a true woman of God and an example of great faithfulness in the face of this. Her mother before her also lived well into her 90’s and left a very encouraging legacy. I have others in my family who have died younger than my mom and I would not emulate. It has nothing to do with how old you are when you die. It has every thing to do with who God is and how he works in our lives. Philippians 3:9.