Originally published January 3, 2015.
We buried my brother today. As you know from earlier posts, my brother Stoke was found dead in his kitchen a week ago today. Since we had just seen him on Christmas day, the news caught us completely by surprise and it is still difficult realizing that he is gone.
We have the hope one has when a brother has trusted in Christ for salvation, and for that we are grateful.
But some still have questions, doubts and that never-ending desire to reach back in time and change things so that Stoke would have avoided death on that day. It’s a temptation we all face, the could’ve, should’ve, would’ves that would somehow give us a different result than the one we are living with. Mostly, I have heard that we should have encouraged Stoke to eat more healthy foods, and less of it, so that his weight would not have taken its toll on his life. This view is supported by the prevailing false belief in our culture, that if we eat healthy foods, we will live longer.
However, the reality of God’s sovereign hand involved in our lives really show us that there is nothing we could have done to change the outcome of what took place. What I mean by this is that God had already decreed before the foundation of the world the number of days that Stoke was to have. So had we helped Stoke lose weight, the only difference would be in the weight of the casket as we carried it from the hearse to the grave. (By the way, I’m not convinced his weight had anything to do with his death. He had lost 20 lbs. in the last six months, so he was taking measures to lose weight).
Listen to the writer of Hebrews: And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment. The idea is that it is already determined when we will die by God, and then we will all face judgment. So the idea that we can add to our days is not supported in Scripture, especially when you look at what Christ said in the Sermon on the Mount: “Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?” The Greek also supports the translation: “Which of you by worrying can add a moment to your lifetime?”
I believe Jesus is saying indirectly that we cannot add anything to our lives, especially through worrying about it. If you believe in a sovereign God, who decrees all things, then there is no changing the number of days we have been blessed with.
Yes, there were ways the Stoke could have lived a healthier lifestyle. But the number of days he was given was still the same, just as the number of days we are given cannot be altered. What is important is not worrying about what we did or didn’t do with Stoke, but to make sure we focus on those who are still with us, so that when they pass, we won’t be left with the thoughts that we should have done things differently. As for Stoke, I don’t believe there was a single thing he would have done differently. He lived, loved, laughed and really, really helped a lot of people. The stories that were told at his funeral and afterwards, really helped me and my family see what a loving and caring man he was. I miss him and I’m glad to have the blessing of knowing him in this life. I look forward to knowing him the next as well. I have no “should’ve, could’ve or would’ve,” just the joy of knowing Stoke and the joy he brought so many people.