For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. Philippians 1:21-23
This past week I was bothered when I read the remarkable story of Tyler Campbell.
If you missed it, let me briefly share. Nineteen-year-old Campbell was at church with his family when he left to go to a friend's home. He promised he would be home by midnight. That deadline came and went, but the family wasn't worried. It was only the next day that their concern began to increase.
A call to Campbell's friend and a drive on the route the lad would have taken home led the family to conclude the teenager was missing. The police were informed and hundreds of people volunteered their time in a search for the young man.
Three days after he went missing, with a broken shoulder and a broken leg, Campbell managed to crawl out of a 30-foot ravine where his truck had crashed. Overjoyed, his father said, "I don't believe in luck. It was the Lord. It was 100 percent in His plan, and His will, and His way."
Now I am, like the Campbells, thankful that Tyler is alive. Even so, I am still concerned about the father's statement. I am concerned because I'm not sure Campbell's dad would have said the same thing if his boy had been killed in that accident.
The truth is and Saint Paul said it, "to live is Christ and to die is gain." To the church at Rome, the apostle wrote: "So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be the Lord both of the dead and of the living" (Romans 14:8-9).
Saint Paul knew that our loving Father will always do what is right and best for His people. In life or in death God will always do what is right and best.
Now it's true we sinful humans with limited understanding may not always be able to understand why someone is in an accident or why a loved one may be taken from us. At such times we may not comprehend, but a Holy Spirit-given faith can still motivate us to say, as our Savior once said, "Not My will, but Thine be done" (Luke 22:42b).
As children of faith, we can and ought to echo the Redeemer, who knew the good that would come from Him drinking His "cup of suffering" would outweigh the pain and suffering, which were soon to come. Showing an unshakable faith, Jesus trusted His Heavenly Father.
We should do no less. As Jesus told His people, "If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!" (Matthew 7:11).
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, give me faith to know that while Your ways are not my ways, and Your thoughts are not mine, You will always do what is right and best for Your children of faith. This I ask in Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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