When it comes to matters of life and death, who is really in charge? These are very challenging times for Christians. If you keep your eyes on the news, you have seen many challenges, on both the state and federal levels, to God’s authority over life and death.
One of my neighbors asked the question out loud: “Who is really in charge?” Does the president and his administration have any control? Is it special interest groups? Is it the more liberal crowd in Washington? Is God anywhere in the mix? These days it’s easy for God-fearing Christians to be discouraged by what they see and hear when it comes down to who is really in charge of life and death.
So today we will lay these matters to rest and let God answer the question of WHEN IT COMES TO LIFE AND DEATH, WHO IS REALLY IN CHARGE?
The first group of people to weigh in on the question is the world around us. As a group, they are pretty convinced who’s in charge. When it comes to life and death, the world says, “I’m in charge.” Have you ever seen a list of reasons why patients in Oregon choose to end their lives through the help of a physician?
And for that matter, have you seen the list of reasons why a host of patients in other states are begging for the same thing? I had not seen such a list until I looked up some websites to find out where these people were coming from. It came down to an issue of control.
One man wanted to be in charge of his quality of life and said, “A person should be free to choose to die when life ceases to be worth living.” Another woman said, “The option of physician-assisted suicide would give patients and their families peace of mind.” She wanted to have a say in how her loved ones would feel.
One man confided that he was pushing to have his life terminated so that he could ultimately be in control of his finances. His treatment was draining the family savings and retirement account pretty fast, and he wanted to be sure that there was an inheritance for his kids.
One woman said, “It’s pretty simple, really. I want my physician to help terminate my life so that I can finally be free of the pain. I cannot stand the pain.” For her, it was all about being in charge of how she felt.
In the midst of all that chatter by the world about how they are declaring themselves to be in charge comes the clear Word from the Creator. In His fifth commandment God clearly says, “You shall not murder.” And He expands on that to say that the only One who has the inherent right to end a human life is the Lord Himself. It doesn’t matter how depleted the savings account is or how many pain pills you take or what you think your quality of life is.
God alone reserves the right to end a human life. He created life and He alone has the right to take it back again. And despite what the Supreme Court might say or what state legislators might decree, God still holds the world accountable for their sins. God says that if the world is intent on rebelling against His gift of life, then they will pay for it with an eternal death in hell.
Do you want to know, though, what kind of scared me as I visited all of those pro-physician-assisted suicide websites? I found that my own human reason didn’t find the answers that people were giving to be outlandish and terrible. For crying out loud, how bad can it be that a man simply wants to leave his children an inheritance? That seems like a pretty selfless act and a downright thoughtful thing to do! And is it really so awful that a person just wants to be free of pain, the kind of pain you and I probably haven’t ever experienced.
When the medication doesn’t seem to be working and the depression has set in, and you haven’t felt like yourself for such a long time, and you’re always so tired, doesn’t part of you just want to scream out, “Oh, come on – have a heart, will you?
If people want to be free of these things by having their doctors give them some medication so they just drift off to a permanent sleep – can that be so wrong? You see, the painful truth is this: “When it comes to life and death, sometimes I say, “I’m in charge.”
Part of us says, “If I were in that kind of pain and facing that kind of prolonged suffering, I think I’d like to have the option of having my life terminated, too. I’m not saying I’d actually do it, but it should at least be an option. I can sympathize with those terminally ill folks because I can imagine what it’s like to be in their shoes.”
Our sinful nature will always say that you are the master of your fate. You are the captain of your soul. Nobody but nobody has the right to tell you what to do. The only one you are answerable to is yourself. As long as you are okay with life or death on your terms, then nobody has a right to tell you anything. Yet God comes to you and me and says:
How dare you presume to take the place of Me when it comes to determining what is fair and good and reasonable in matters of life and death; and how dare you take the side – if even in your own mind – of those who think that way. Perhaps you have forgotten what I had my apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians, “You are not your own; you were bought at a price.” Therefore honor God with your body.
God makes it really simple, doesn’t He? You are not in charge here! And if we can’t get that straight—no matter what the circumstances are in our lives—God warns us that we can think it over with the unbelievers in hell because they are clinging to the same sin. Do you remember the question?: Who’s really in charge here?
Who’s really in charge in good times and bad, through the sniffles and terminal illnesses? God assures us that He is the One who is in charge of life and death. And that, my dear Christian friends, is the best news of all. When Moses was giving his farewell address to the Israelites, he quoted the Lord, that it was He who was there for them fighting their battles, and not to be afraid of the enemy or what would happen to them.
God said in Deuteronomy 32:39 that there is no God him: “It is I who put to death and give life.”
God is in control of everything. He has a plan for everyone and everything. He is stronger than any congress, state legislature or president. He promises that if it is His will, you will live to serve Him in whatever station in life which He has placed you. And when it is time for you to be delivered from this life to the next, God will see to that, too. He’s the One in charge. That’s a comforting thought, isn’t it?
It would be awful if the One who was in charge, the One who controlled your life and the events in it were a lousy no good tyrant and bully. But that’s simply not the case, is it? Do you remember those words from Paul that I mentioned before? He said that we have a loving God who bought you and your life at a very high price. The One in charge knew that we would land ourselves in hell because of our lousy attitude toward life and life issues, so our God sent His Son to win for us eternal life.
Our gracious and merciful Savior went to the Cross and gave up His life so that we could have life to the fullest. That has always been God’s intention – that we have life and have it to the fullest. Jesus paid for our sins so that heaven would be ours. Because we love Jesus so much, we are willing to wait through whatever comes along until He determines that it’s the right time to take us from this life to the next. But it’s not like Jesus simply says, “Hey, life could get pretty bad, pretty painful, pretty cancerous so just hang in there and I’ll get to you when I get to you.”
No, Jesus promises that He will be right there by our sides helping us to get through all the difficulties until He takes us to heaven. Our lesson said that Jesus will help us fight our battles – and that includes the battles that come with our health and our physical life. Jesus promises that He is still in charge. But here’s the thing: not everybody knows that.
There are millions and millions of people who either don’t know that God is in charge or they simply have, up until now, refused to believe it. It’s our job to go out and tell them. Model it for them. Show by your Christian life and witness that you trust that Jesus Christ is in charge, maybe in how you handle your own health issues or your own personal trials in your life.
Pray for other people that they might come to know that Jesus is their Savior so that they can have that peace of knowing that they don’t have to be the one in charge. Jesus is so much better at directing the life of a Christian than anyone else. And speak out in your defense of life.
If the One in charge tells us in His Word about principles of life and death, then we will promote those ideas as best we can. Our Lord has left no doubt about who is really in charge. He gives life. He takes life. He provides eternal life through His Son. Now let’s go out into the world and really show them who’s in charge.