Walker Best was a student at Texas A&M and a personal friend who lost his life in a train accident in College Station this past week. The tragedy of death and the brevity of life radiating from this situation has caused me to pause to reflect on the goodness of God even in the midst of death.
Why Walker? Why now? That’s the question that many of us are asking. This question is a double edged sword–it can be the right question if it comes from a recognition for the need to search for a greater purpose in life, but it can be the wrong question if it comes from a questioning of the goodness of God even in the midst of death.
Why does God allow bad things happen to good people? Not because He is the author of evil. Not because He isn’t powerful enough to do anything about it. God is doing all things for His glory and our good. Therefore, God allows bad things to happen to good people because it is ultimately for His glory and our good.
Think about the death of Christ–this is the ultimate example of bad things happening to good people. Why did God allow this to happen? For His glory and our good–that through the blood of Christ He might reconcile a broken world to Himself. God was purposeful in the death of Christ, and I believe He is purposeful in the passing of Walker Best.
Romans 8:28 tells us that God works all things together for the good. But how could God possibly use this situation for the good? Romans 8:29 goes on to tell us that God’s good is to make each of us more like Christ. So, here’s how God uses this situation for the good:
- God uses it for the good of Walker since he is now at home with Christ for eternity where there is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11).
- God uses it for the good of believers as He drives home the point of the brevity of life–Only one life, twill soon be passed; only what’s done for Christ will last.
- God uses it for the good of the lost as He draws them to Himself through the realization of the urgency of life, the reality of their sin, and the need for a Savior
Why Walker? Why now? Though we may search for answers in the days to come, God doesn’t owe us an explanation. All we know is that in some way, God is moving towards Christ in this situation. We must trust Him even when we don’t understand Him.
If we recognize that all things are for a greater good, then it leaves no room for bitterness towards God. The sorrow that we feel is okay because the evil of death has occurred, but this is not an evil without hope. The worst thing that can happen to you is not death. The worst thing that can happen to you is Hell. For the believer, death is not a tragedy but a homecoming.
What happens to believers when they have completed the race marked out for them by God? What wil be their experience as they enter eternity? Charles Spurgeon sheds some light on the subject. Let these descriptions fill you with joy as you imagine Walker experiencing them:
How will you fare in the hour of death? Why, you will do as a man does who has had a long day’s walk, and he can see his home. You will clap your hands. You will sit down upon rock to rest with tears in your eyes, and wipe the sweat from your face and say, “It is good, it is over. Oh how happy it is to see my own home, and the place where my best friends, and my family lives. I shall soon be at home—at home forever with the Lord.”
How will you manage? Why we will do as a soldier does when the battle has ended; he takes off his armor, stretches himself out on the ground to rest. The battle is all over. He forgets his wound, and thinks of the glory of the victory and the reward which follows. This is what we will also do. We will begin to forget the wounds, and the uniforms splattered with blood, and we will think of the “the crown of glory that will never fade away.”
How will we fare at the hour of our death? We will do as men do when they leave for a foreign country. They look back upon those they leave behind, and wave their hands as long as they can still see their loved ones; but they are soon gone. And we will bid good-bye to our loved ones; they shall have the tears, but we shall have the joy, for we go to the islands of the blessed ones, the land of eternity, the home of the sanctified, to live with God forever.
Walker is that man who has come home. Walker is that soldier who has finished the battle. Walker is that man who has left for a foreign country. Though he has left earth, he has finally made it home “for our citizenship is in Heaven” (Philippians 3:20-21). Though we are filled with tears, he is filled with joy.
How do we respond to this situation? How do we move forward through the tragedy of death in a way that honors Christ? I will let the prayer of John Piper leave us with the answer:
Your steadfast love, O Lord, is better than life. You have told us this in many ways. With these very words you have said it through the mouth of your servant David: “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.” You have said it in the words of your apostle Paul, when he cried out in prison, “My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.” O Lord, how much better you are than life! Does your apostle Paul not use strong language! Not just “better,” but “far better.” You are so much better than life that your apostle says death is gain. “To live is Christ, and to die is gain.” To lose everything this world can offer and be left with you alone is gain.
Dear Lord, I tremble now to pray for readers what I barely feel myself. But I have tasted what our life might be if I, and they, could walk along the ever-present edge of death, and smile with utter confidence that if we fell, or possibly were pushed, it would be gain. Oh, what abandon, what great liberty, what invincible resolve to love would be our portion if we walked this way! What readiness to suffer for the glory of Christ! What eagerness to show the poor that we would gladly spend and be spent to make them glad in God for all eternity! What lowliness and meekness and freedom from the need for praise and pay! All things are ours in Christ—the world, life, death, the present, the future. All are ours, and we are Christ’s. And none of it deserved.
Let love flow from your saints, and may it, Lord, be this: that even if it costs our lives, the people will be glad in God. “Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy.” Take your honored place, O Christ, as the all-satisfying Treasure of the world. With trembling hands before the throne of God, and utterly dependent on your grace, we lift our voice and make this solemn vow: As God lives, and is all I ever need, I will not waste my life . . .through Jesus Christ, AMEN.