A ·good [righteous] person can look forward to happiness,Proverbs 10:28, Expanded Bible
but ·an evil person can expect nothing [L the hope of an evil person will perish].
Dearest Rachel –
It wasn’t all that long ago that we were, in fact, looking forward to happiness together. So many of the things that cause most people to struggle in life had been resolved or removed, and while we were, like the entire rest of the world, confined to quarters, we knew that sooner or later, the doors would open, and we would be released into the world, which had become our oyster.
And then, the oysters went bad.
The other day (well, you can tell when it was by the chapter number, can’t you?) I was doing my read through Proverbs and came across the verse above.
I know it’s foolish of me to jump to conclusions about my current circumstances, but I cannot keep myself from wondering whether this verse applies to me, and how. Was I – were we – righteous in those days gone by, and if so, what changed? When you perished, did my own hope die with you?
When a man finds a wife, he finds something good.Proverbs 18:22, Expanded Bible
It shows that the Lord ·is pleased with [favors] him.
I don’t want to believe these passages pertain to me, but to read them is to inevitably contemplate how they apply to me. Does something like this mean that God is no longer pleased with me? What did I do to cause that to happen?
Is it possible that, given some of the plans that we had for the future, we were on the verge of stagnating spiritually, and the Lord put a stop to that? I know that – just for an example – we were handicapped from showing hospitality; was He of the opinion that I needed to clean this place out, literally over your dead body? Were you possibly holding me back from what I had to do in or make of my own life? Perish the thought.
But here it is, where Paul talks about the fact that there were times, in fact, when death was meted out as a punishment.
That is why many in your group are sick and weak, and ·some [a number] of you have ·died [L fallen asleep; C a euphemism for death].I Corinthians 11:30, Expanded Bible
And this isn’t an isolated case, either. Consider, too, the grumbling Israelites throughout the books of the Torah, or the tale of Ananias and his wife Sapphira (Acts 5). Jesus Himself told of the fate of the rich fool, and how all his material wealth meant nothing without life:
I can say to ·myself [L my soul], “I [L Soul, you] have enough good things stored to last for many years. ·Rest [Take it easy], eat, drink, and ·enjoy life [celebrate; T be merry]!”’ But God said to him, ‘Foolish man! Tonight your ·life [L soul] will be ·taken [demanded back] from you. So who will get those things you have prepared for yourself?’Luke 12:19,20, Expanded Bible
And while this last case wasn’t strictly a punishment (and, in any event, this was only a fictional tale meant to illustrate a point), it does seem like God was dealing with this man as his selfishness deserved.
Which brings me back to my attempts at making sense of what happened to you. Was there a reason this was inflicted upon you? Does this means God’s attitude toward me has changed somehow? And what might I – or either of us – have done to cause that change? It’s a frightening rabbit hole to fall down, let me tell you.
And it may very well be unnecessary, too. After all, even Jesus acknowledged that, sometimes, things just happen (or at least, are allowed to happen):
[L Or] What about those eighteen people who died when the tower of Siloam fell on them? Do you think they were ·more sinful [more guilty; greater offenders] than all the others who live in Jerusalem? No, I tell you. But unless you ·change your hearts and lives [repent], you will all be destroyed too!”Luke 13:4,5, Expanded Bible
Considering the recent events in Surfside, Florida, this passage actually cuts alarmingly close to current events right now. The fact of the matter is, accidents happen, and they always will. People will suffer in seemingly random ways, and there isn’t necessarily a reason for those particular people to suffer such a fate other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It happened back then, and it happens now. And yet, He still includes an admonition about repentance, lest all His listeners face destruction as well.
But does that apply to you? Or am I reading too much into any of these passages?
Pastor Scott has, on occasion, claimed that he has faced people who claim the Bible is ‘full of contradictions’ with a challenge to ‘name one,’ which virtually always shuts his questioner down. The funny part is – just to name one example – there is a pair of verses in Proverbs 26 right next to each other that explicitly contradict each other (“Don’t answer fools when they speak foolishly…” / “Answer fools when they speak foolishly…”) that… really? No one’s mentioned that one to him?
Of course, the point of that passage is that a wise person needs to know which reaction to take when confronting a fool speaking foolishly. Is there the possibility that said fool can be taught the error of his ways? Then by all means, respond to him. Or is he more likely to, as the saying goes, drag you to his level and beat you with experience? Then you had best stay silent, and leave him to his own devices.
And that is the great difficulty of the scriptures: while it can easily be argued that the problem most people have in life is that they don’t read the owner’s manual, for those of us that do, it’s not entirely intuitive as to which tool to use in which situation. It may very well be that you had simply accomplished the purposes to which you had been put here (perhaps your efforts to ensure your parents’ salvation – or perhaps, that your testimony could be further proclaimed at your memorial), and the Lord let you knock off early, rather than bother with the decline into old age and dementia as the women of your family tended toward.
The death of ·one that belongs to the Lord [his loyal ones/saints] is precious in his ·sight [L eyes].Psalm 116:15, Expanded Bible
Perhaps He just wanted to get you home where you belonged, so you could enjoy His presence that much sooner. I want to believe as much.
But it still begs the question: where do Daniel and I stand in His sight, now that He has taken back the gift that you were to us? We have no right to an explanation, but I wish I understood whether I did something – because, if nothing else, how do I correct what’s wrong if I don’t recognize it?