It used to be difficult for me to reconcile "He carried all our sicknesses and sorrows" with Christians dropping like flies from cancer, heart attacks, seemingly senseless and tragic accidents and so much more .................

In a time of heart-tearing pain, I saw her, my precious loved one, slipping away. No matter how tightly I wrapped my arms around her, I could not hold her here. God is all-powerful; He answers so many little prayers -- like finding my car keys or having that letter come, etc. But where is He on the big things? Doesn't He care that my heart is breaking? Or am I confused? I need to take a deep breath and remind myself that prayer is not getting things from God. I am not a beggar begging at the back door of Heaven with a shopping list. Prayer is drawing close and always closer to my heavenly Father; it is a deepening of our relationship until I know that WHEN I CANNOT TRACE HIS HAND, I CAN TRUST HIS HEART.

What really and truly is the big thing here? If everything that happened in her life, everything in her, through her, by her, to her and around her was all part of the divine preparation for a joyous, tireless, fulfilling work which will contribute through all eternity: if Jesus went to prepare a place for her, not just a mansion but a place of glorious, essential importance and significance, ISN'T THAT THE BIGGEST THING?

Faith is not masking fear with a blustering declaration about healing; faith is declaring my determined trust in God's unfailing goodness, wisdom and love. While praying for a grieving family, the Lord clearly spoke these words to me, "Heaven will be better for the family because of the TIMING of the loved one's going!"

How will we respond when the Saviour asks, "Will you release to Me and to My care your precious loved one, AND MINE?"

While praying for some seriously ill people, the Holy Spirit turned the lights on for me and I began to see what God's Word really says.

Jesus is Victor (1 Corinthians 15:57). He has borne our sicknesses and with the stripes that wounded Him, we are healed and made whole(Isaiah 53:4-5).

Who heals all our diseases (Psalms 103:3).

Illness/cancer, heart attack, etc..... Accident/car, plane crash, sinking ship, etc..... Attack/war, famine, guns, etc..... None of these things can ever kill a Christian!!!

God has already determined the number of our days (Job 14:5). Even before we were formed in the womb, all the days of our lives were written in God's Book (Psalms 139:16). God gifts to us an allotted span of years and the gifts of God are irrevocable (Romams 11:29). God may use an illness or accident to release us from this physical life but such things can never kill a Christian because nothing that attacks one of His creatures can defy the Creator.

Your life God will give to you for a prey; wherever you go, nothing can harm your life because God is guarding it and is with you to deliver you (Jeremiah 45:5 & Jeremiah 1:8). Nothing can shorten the life God has given us.

Whatever illness or danger "seeks my life," will be as chaff before the wind of my immortality until God calls me home (Psalms 35:4-5). When God does call us, it will not be a defeat to illness or tragedy but a victorious response by the King's sons and daughters to a royal summons to a welcome-home.

There is nothing to fear. Be of good cheer; Jesus has overcome the world and all the diseases and dangers in the world. He has deprived them of all power to harm us (John 16:33). We are also overcomers because greater is He that is in us, than all the diseases and dangers that surround us (1 John 4:4).

Suffering, in itself, has no value; it only hardens us but oh, how God can use it to enlarge our faith. Remember, God has a plan. This is not mindless, useless suffering but a good plan by God for the blessing of many (Psalms 22:9-21). So, we learn that suffering for a Christian is never meaningless. Healing -- spiritual, mental, emotional, physical.

He gives life in place of death and He sustains that life because He is Life (Psalms 30:2-3). In HIS HAND is the breath of every living thing -- not in the hand of illness, etc. (Job 12:10). God, in Whose hand your breath is (Daniel 5:23). Nothing can take the control out of His hand.

The Lord has made everything to contribute to His purpose (Proverbs 16:4) and that everything includes apparent tragedy and the death of loved ones.

Many times Christians are saddened by an announcement which might go something like this; "Death by unsuspected aneurysm to missionary at the peak of his work" or "After years of preparation, training and language study, freak accident kills young missionary after less than one month on the field" or such announcement could apply to any Christian who seems to have been vitally needed in the place left vacant by their death. And we say, "Such a waste! What a tragedy!"

Is it really? Is God not as intelligent as we are? Do we know something that He doesn't know or is it the other way around? While cutting vegetables at the sink, one day, these words popped into my mind. "Gather up the fragments so that nothing is wasted." So I left the vegetables and looked up these words of Jesus in John 6:12. Peter tells in Acts 2:22 of the Man approved unto God by signs and miracles which God did by Him. The feeding of the 5000 was one of the miracles which God did by Him and after everyone had eaten their fill, Jesus said to gather up the leftovers so there would be no waste. Now since God had miraculously provided this food and could easily whip up another batch, running out of food was not the main concern. Jesus was reiterating a principle taught throughout Scripture; that of responsibility and stewardship.

Well, if Jesus cared about the waste of food and indeed would not waste food, how could we possibly think He would ever waste a life, especially the life of one created in His image, redeemed by His precious Blood and empowered to represent Him in a desperately needy world? Of course He wouldn't!

Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? (Genesis 18:25).

The only tragic part of such a circumstance is the grief of the sorrowing loved ones who are temporarily left behind; but even this must "in its golden light be seen." Not only so but we are also aware that this life with all it holds is preparation for our own future life and work. When that work is ready for us and God has fully prepared us for that work, He will promote us to that richer, fuller life. How can this be tragedy?

We notice that it was when they were all filled, when everyone had enough, that Jesus said to gather up the fragments. Nobody was overlooked and nobody went away unsatisfied. God doesn't stint anyone on life either; not the individual who goes Home nor the family and friends remaining here. Remember it was when the disciples obeyed the Lord Jesus and ministered in other areas, that He Himself went and ministered in their home towns (Matthew 11:1).

We should be careful that we don't rob someone of God's personal ministry to them by insisting on taking care of them ourselves. Every need will be met and God will fill the deepest, aching abyss of every seeking heart. When we let God call the shots, everyone who brings their need to Him will be filled/satisfied.

To every matter and purpose, there is a time (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Deliverance!

-- and more ground gained/broad place -- part of the purpose for the distress (Psalms 31:8). Love Him, trust Him and hang in there for the finish with great expectations (Psalms 31:23-24). Everything God says is good and everything God does is good (Psalms 33:4). The Lord plans each

detail of our day with delight and is involved in every step (Psalms 37:23). Does my reaction mar His delight?

This same truth applies to aging people who seem to linger on for years without apparent purpose and hampered by failing faculties. It look as though it would be better for them and everyone else if God took them home. Nothing that affects a Christian is without purpose. God has a purpose and that purpose is good and beneficial (Jeremiah 29:11). From birth to old age God will carry you because you are important and special to Him; and His saving Life will provide everything His redeeming death has purchased (Isaiah 46:3-4).

I am in no way disguising the fact that death is an enemy. I could never belittle, having felt, the raw, naked pain that tears the heart in grief. Yet, even this is part of what is preparing us, too, for that eternal, resplendent project.

Let me hasten to say that I have had first-hand experience will illness and with healing, just in case someone could think that I'm reinterpreting sickness to mean something other than its traditional meaning. I know that sickness is actual sickness with all of its horrible misery. Several of my family members have died with heart disease, cancer and some with alcohol-related illnesses; some of them suffering agony as they slowly wasted away. Very well I know that sickness in all its ugliness and pain is very real and one of the results of the Fall. Also I have seen it to be the tragic result of personal choices of some close relatives. Then too, I realize (from Colossians 1:24 and other passages) that God has not yet accomplished everything He wants to through suffering.

The point I am trying to make, to too-often depressed Christians, is that whether we wake or sleep, live or die, in sickness or in health, whatever the circumstances, on earth or in Heaven, we LIVE together with Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:10).

When we walk with the Lord, in total dependence on Him, yielding unquestioning obedience to Him, because of unconditional love for Him, then He calls the shots and nothing, including illness, can interfere with His plan for our lives by hampering or shortening them (Psalms 139:16) and nothing, including good health, can interfere with His plan for our lives by lengthening them (Deuteronomy 34:7). If God allows sickness or tragedy or death, He can create much beauty and enrichment through these things, IF WE LET HIM.

Pearls are pains covered by the provision of Almighty God.

Concerning the death of a believer, I take special delight in Acts 13:36 (Amplified):--

David, after he had served God's will and purpose and counsel in his own generation, fell asleep in death and was buried among his forefathers.

What a tremendous comfort and assurance. It was not until God had completed all His purpose through David, that David received the royal summons to go Home. The same holds true for each one of us who have been redeemed by the precious Blood of Jesus.