By Stephen Leonard
“I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” Psalm 139:14-16
Life is both. God gave us amazing human bodies; bodies that can withstand fierce physical trauma and yet recover. But then also bodies that may succumb to death with just the right blow, fall, or sickness.
Death appears to us as being indiscriminate. I went through a year of close combat in the Vietnam Conflict as other young soldiers in my platoon fell fatally, near my side, and yet I escaped death. Why me? Was death truly so indiscriminate and random?
To me, we were all of us fragile every day to violent death in the jungles of Vietnam. Death was just a mortar, bullet, artillery shell or IED explosion away. Awaking in the morning, I did not know if I would lie down to sleep that night. Death could overtake you in an instant, and it did many.
Now at 76, I am not as hearty as I was at 23. In fact, I am downright fragile due primarily to disabilities from the Vietnam engagement that have slowly overtaken a once vigorous body.
Death has not met me yet. But death strikes us all in various settings. You do not need to be in a war zone to face death. It strikes quite frequently in common everyday living. Car wrecks, crime, cancer, falls, and freak accidents strike at peculiar times when not expected.
Our bodies and our lives are both fragile and hearty. They can withstand severe intrusions and yet succumb to the most innocuous occurrences. It really comes down to the fact that our lives are not in our hands, though most often to us, they appear to be. Every day of your life is ordained for you by a Sovereign God. Nothing is indiscriminate or random.
Our bodies and our lives are both fragile and hearty! Yet the span of our days is in the plan of a loving, all-knowing God. If he has chosen to have you escape death in a deadly war, it will be so. If he has planned for you to succumb to cancer, or even recover, such will happen. We pray for the outcome we believe is best for us and our loved ones. But we leave it finally in His hands. Whatever your road, Jesus, when you place your faith in Him, will surely be your faithful companion in it!
“When through the deep waters I call you to go, the rivers of sorrow shall not overflow; for I will be with you, your troubles to bless, and sanctify to you your deepest distress.”
(3rd verse of Rippon’s Selection of Hymns, “How Firm a Foundation,” 1787)