Editor’s Note: This is somewhat personal for me as decisions are being made today about putting my sister on hospice. My sister was in the last wave of people to get polio before the vaccine was released. She spent some time in an iron lung as a result and had lifelong weakness affecting her upper extremities and torso due to the illness. However, I never heard her ask, “Why me?” or complain about it. But this is “why her.” Because of her illness, my mother, who was a nurse, offered to help my father who was widowed and trying to care for two young girls on his own while shepherding a congregation. My mother helped with my sister’s physical therapy and the result of that was the eventual marriage of my parents. So neither I nor my brothers would be here if this didn’t happen to my sister. Perhaps because of the polio (or maybe not, we never really talked about it), my sister remained single and because of that was very much involved in our families lives, despite the age difference. She, more often than not, joined us at Christmas time for a couple of weeks as well as during the summer, often being a part of summer vacations. She was also in a position to help my parents with my brother’s and my college tuition, or so I’ve been told. There are many other examples of the ultimate benefit to others that my sister’s polio had, but suffice it to say, she can expect to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant.” That is “why her”, even if she did not ask the question.
Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. I Thess. 5:22
If a person could predict with certainty that the world will end, say, before , a shock of surprise would go around the globe. But the simple fact is that the majority of all people who are living on the earth right now are going to be dead by 2040 or even before. Leaving out dates all together, one can say with absolute certainty that Christ is going to return during the life time of every one of us, because our individual deaths, which are so certain and comparatively close, are just as final and frightening as the end of the world.
We are so time-conditioned that somehow we have the feeling that if Jesus doesn’t return until a thousand years from now (just as millions of people have been dead that long since Jesus left this earth) a lot can happen between now and then. A lot can and will, if Jesus tarries, but nothing for the dead. As far as a person’s individual fate is concerned not a single thing happens between his death and the final judgment. For all practical purposes his death marks the end of the world. Christ’s summons for him is the same as the last trump. Hebrews says, “It is appointed unto men once to die, and after that the judgment.”
When you and I talk about a certain individual as having been dead so many years we forget that at the moment a person leaves this earth time ceases altogether for him. The interval between a person’s death and Christ’s coming, no matter how many years elapse here upon earth, is like the “timeless” interval between falling into a sound sleep one evening and waking many hours later on the morrow.