If we want to live, we first must die.
Are you saved from life or death? Would you like to be saved from happiness? Would you like to be saved from riches? Would you like to be saved from the pride of life?
Have you ever seen a man who was saved from happiness before? Men are usually saved from adversity. But in his case they said please save him because happiness is going to kill him.
What exactly does he need? He needs a little bit of suffering. He needs a little bit of affliction. And so, many are the afflictions of the righteous. (Psalm 34:19).
Solomon says: Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.” (Ecclesiastes 7:3-4).
Life of death
Jesus asks the man at the pool of Bethesda: “Do you want to be made whole?” (John 5:6). This is tantamount to asking: “Do you want to stop lusting?” “Do you want to stop fighting? Stop quarreling? Stop promoting yourself? Stop defending yourself? Stop justifying yourself?”
In Christ, you no longer exist. You are one with Him.
Something terrible happened to Mr. Job. Something happened that made him despair for life. Most people celebrate their birthdays, but Job cursed the day of his birth.
He wished he had never been born. Job longed for the peace of death. He said: “Let the day of my birth be cursed,” he said, “and the night when I was conceived. Let that day be forever forgotten. Let it be lost even to God, shrouded in eternal darkness.” (Job 3:2).
How did Job come to this predicament?
Life happened to Job. The life Jesus came to deliver us from happened to him. The life that many people cling to tenaciously and rapaciously happened to him.
Imagine you are suffering from a terminal sickness and when you consult your doctor, he simply tells you: “You are suffering from life.” How can you be cured of life?
Jesus is in that business. He is in the business of delivering men from counterfeit life to eternal life.
Life became deadly to Job. Life became a sickness to him. Solomon, in his wisdom, reached the same conclusion. He lamented: “I hated life because the work that was done under the sun was distressing to me, for all is vanity and grasping for the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 2:17).
Job too hated life. At that stage, Job was ready for Christ. Job was a prime candidate for death, and for the resurrection to the newness of life by Jesus Christ.
Job is everyman and he is every believer. But the dynamics of the kingdom of God indicate that God needs to take us to that place where we despair for life. He needs to take us to that place where we are convinced that it is better to die than to live. Only when He does this are we likely to relinquish counterfeit life.
Have you ever reached a point where you despaired for life? That is what life does. Life suddenly comes up with a problem for which you have no solution. Life suddenly throws you a curve.
Everything was smooth sailing, and you were blessing God and giving Him thanks and then, “straightaway,” a major crisis of insoluble proportions shows up unannounced out of nowhere, and it completely changes your theology.
Suddenly somebody close and dear dies. It might be a husband, it might be a wife, it might be a child, it might be a relative, and it might be a friend. Suddenly, there is a catastrophic accident, and somebody is hospitalised. Suddenly, there is a business failure, a failed bank, or an armed robbery. Suddenly you lose your job.
It has nothing to do with how righteous you are. It has nothing to do with how faithful to God you are. God himself testified that Job was righteous. And yet in one day, Job lost all his children, lost all his business, and all his wealth, and then he lost his health.
Then we are faced with the million-dollar question: will Job lose his faith as well?
Why does this happen?
Good and evil
It happens because we live in a fallen world. We live in a world that God was determined to shield man from. It is a world built with knowledge from the tree of good and evil. It ensures that everything man-made combines the good with the bad.
We live in a world under the sway of the evil one where the good, the bad, and the ugly are intertwined. All are exposed to calamity. It is only in the future world that the good will be happy and the wicked will be punished. In the world to come, all that is irregular on earth will be regularized.
Then: “Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low.” (Isaiah 40:4).But here on earth, the sun shines on the good and the evil. The wind blows, the rain falls, and the storms come on the good and the evil.
Appointed to suffer
The righteous obtain fewer blessings from God than the wicked in this world. The wicked are happier and more prosperous:
“The truth is that the wicked live on to a good old age and become great and powerful. They live to see their children grow to maturity around them, and their grandchildren too. Their homes are safe from every fear, and God does not punish them… They are prosperous to the end.” (Job 21:7-12).
The psalmist concurs: “Behold, these are the ungodly who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.” (Psalm 73:12).
Killing to make alive
God called Moses to deliver the children of Israel from the hand of Pharaoh. But on the way, the same God met him and wanted to kill him: “It came to pass on the way, at the encampment, that the LORD met him and sought to kill him.” (Exodus 4:24).
Does God want you dead? Do not ask me. Ask David.
He was promised a kingdom and anointed as king. But instead of going straight to the throne, he spent years running for his life. I know you thought he was running from Saul, but David was in no doubt it was God he was running from. He knew Saul could not succeed unless God allowed him. He knew only God could take his life.
Therefore, David pleaded: “What will you gain, O Lord, from killing me? How can I praise You then to all my friends? How can my dust in the grave speak out and tell the world about Your faithfulness? Hear me, Lord; oh, have pity and help me.” (Psalm 30:9-10).
The Lord wants us dead. He wants us to surrender and, like Jesus, lay down our life. Then, and only then, can we receive the abundant life he has in store for us. Protestations will not change God’s will.
If we want to live, we first must die. God kills before He makes alive. (1 Samuel 2:6).