WHY DO THE GOOD DIE YOUNG WHILE THE WICKED ARE GRANTED LONGEVITY?
by Shawn Brasseaux
Such an inquiry sends chills up and down the author’s spine.
It is ironic, is it not? Productive citizens seem to have their lives tragically cut short. Contrariwise, evildoers appear to stay with us forever. The decent, “straight-A,” teenage student expires in a preventable automobile accident—the drunk driver walks off free to live and kill again. While the benevolent king survives but a few decades, the cruel dictator subsists sumptuously to become an octogenarian. The faithful preacher or Bible teacher dies suddenly; the false teacher or cult leader grows old. Hardworking, caring fathers perish at a young age; deadbeat fathers live on to mistreat their children for decades to come. Loving mothers soon become ill and die—terrible mothers never seem to leave. Responsible children die prematurely; on the other hand, juvenile delinquents live on and on. Dear friends, life is ever so complicated, ever so painful, and ever so unfair. The cause is SIN! SIN! SIN!
Sincere people try to offer comfort in the midst of all the above struggles: “We cannot understand the things of God. He works in mysterious ways.” Friends, stop and think. Does that really provide consolation? Really? Is there actually solace in not understanding such disturbing circumstances? With a Bible in hand, knowing the full counsel of God, could that be the best answer we have? Could we rather search the Scriptures, study verses, and attempt to piece together something more reassuring and more meaningful?
The curse is random. God is not selecting one person for cancer, another for heart disease, and yet another for stroke. He is not causing pain and suffering “to get unpaid tithes in medical bills!” We live in a fallen creation, the result of Adam’s willful decision to follow Satan in Genesis chapter 3. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:….” (Romans 5:12). Consequently, the curse of sin affects us equally but in a unique combination of ways. Whether marital problems, family problems, pregnancy and labor pains, exhausting and nearly futile work, thorns and thistles, disorders and disability, aging, illness, or ultimate physical and spiritual death, the effects of sin are all around us. This is the something that is “wrong” in creation (though most lack the spiritual eyes to identify it, as well as find a solution for it).
We should turn to Romans chapter 8: “ For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.  For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.  For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,  Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.  And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.”
Friends, we must “reckon” (verse 18), or reason a certain way. If we are to have any amount of consolation, we will have to think about it the way God Almighty Himself does. There is a glorious eternity ahead for us who have relied exclusively on Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour. He who died for our sins, who was buried to put away our sins, and who was raised again to justify us, we have new life now that will carry on throughout the endless ages to come. Whatever troubles we face now have a limit; they will not last forever. The exact opposite is true of the glory to be revealed in us in eternity future!
No matter who it is—Christian or non-Christian—we all suffer bodily infirmity to some degree. Short of the Lord’s coming, the bodies of all Christians currently living will go to the grave. There will be a few doctor visits, and likely a hospital stay, along the way as well. In light of eternity though, it really does not make any difference for believers in Jesus Christ. These bodies will not last forever anyway. Bodily resurrection and glorified bodies are certain. Regardless of the current state of affairs, the appearance of evil always triumphing over good, it is but temporary. This is not the way things will be forever. Satan is “the god [ruler] of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4): we therefore read about “this present evil world” (Galatians 1:4). However, one day, the Bible speaks of “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15). Until then, we know why we suffer, and we know that this suffering is only temporary for us Christians.
Long, long ago, it was said, “God buries His servants, but not His program.” Indeed! Let us read the two opening verses of the Book of Joshua: “Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying, Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.” Moses was certainly dead: his soul has departed his body, and God Himself has buried the corpse (Deuteronomy 34:5-6). Yet, Israel will still enter the Promised Land—except under Joshua’s headship. Had it depended on Moses, it would have never happened. Moses is deceased… but God is living and in control!
While the God of the Bible uses men and women to accomplish mighty things, they are nevertheless bound to frail, temporary “houses of clay” (Job 4:19). He does not shield them from old age and ultimate physical death. Dying King David, another servant of Israel’s God, remarked, “I go the way of all the earth” (1 Kings 2:2). The curse of sin, until the end times, cannot be lifted. Read Genesis chapter 5—and all but one man died therein! “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Thankfully, we as believers in Christ can rest assured in the resurrection promise found in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-58.
Moses and David were mighty testimonies of God’s power and grace, so why did He not spare them physical death? Remember, people ask today, “Why do the good die young and the evil live to old age?” Why does God let His servants die? He does not want them to be praised and worshipped. He is showing how it is His program, and He really does not need man’s cooperation. With or without man, God will achieve His goals in creation. He does not need us, but He does invite us to join Him! He wants to share His good pleasure with us, that it may become our good pleasure.
If we do join God’s side by faith, working with Him in His program, let us remember that it is still His program. We are not the issue. Hence, we will have a limited time on Earth to participate in His plan. Brethren, once we physically die and relocate to serve Him in the heavenly places, His purpose down here on Earth will continue (without us!!!!). It never depended on us anyway: it was here long before we were born and will remain long after we are gone. 🙂