In His infinite wisdom, God chose this past week to call Adria Ellis home to glory. I can't imagine anyone would disagree when I say that she was one of the godliest, kindest, strongest, most faithful, most humble people ever created. When I think of my own life I can fairly easily pick it apart and highlight a myriad of flaws, inadequacies, sins, and inconsistencies. But as I reflect on Adria's I come up pretty empty trying to find some glaring deficiency. Not that she wasn't a sinner ... she was, and in humility would be the first to run to the cross for forgiveness, grace, strength, and life. I would say the same about Joe ... a true man of God, full of faith, humble, godly character.
So why didn't God answer their many prayers for Adria's healing? And not just their prayers but those of the entire CPC family and of the Ellis family's many friends and relatives. Why didn't God take away the cancer that eventually took her life? That's a question many of us ask, but knowing Adria I suspect we wrestle with it much more than she did. Adria's faith was real and she had total confidence in the sovereignty and goodness of God. She knew God had numbered her days and that she was in no position to argue with His perfect and gracious will. Adria's faith was and will continue to be a model for me and so many others.
Psalm 116:115 says, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." It doesn't always seem very precious at first, but as we reflect on this truth perhaps it can begin to make sense. I borrow some thoughts from A.W. Pink as he comments on this verse. We tend to process everything in life from our own perspective rather than God's and most certainly we view death from our own point of view. But this verse gives us a tiny glimpse from God's perspective. He says that the death of His children is precious to Him ... how can this be? How can Adria's death be precious to the Lord when it seems so hideous to us?
First of all, Adria herself was precious to God. She was one on whom His love was set upon even before the foundation of the world. She was one for whom Jesus willingly left heaven for and who lived and died. She was one for whom Jesus shed His precious blood. Thus, everything about Adria, the number of her hairs that eventually fell out, her every breath, her life, and even her death are precious to Him.
Secondly, her death terminates her sorrows and sufferings. Scripture affirms that we will suffer in this life and that we must go through much of it as we move toward glory. Yet God is never unmindful of or indifferent to our sufferings. In fact, Scripture reminds us that Jesus is familiar with our suffering and that Jesus is able to sympathize with our weaknesses. So in Adria's death, God brought an end to her pain and suffering.
The death of His children also gives the Lord the opportunity to display His sufficiency. To quote Pink, "Love is never so happy as when ministering to the needs of its cherished object, and never is the Christian so needy and so helpless as in the hour of death." Our extremity is God's opportunity to display His amazing grace. As our shepherd, He carries us as helpless sheep in His arms. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Adria's untimely death will force us to rest more securely in God's sufficiency.
Lastly, at death His saints enter into God's presence and He delights in having His children with Him. Jesus enjoyed having the disciples accompany Him on His journeys and as He left them He gave the assurance that He was going to prepare a place for them so that they would eventually be with Him forever. 2 Corinthians 5:8 instructs us that being absent from the body means we are present with the Lord. "Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord." As precious as it would be for Joe and the rest of us to enjoy many more years of life with Adria, her presence with the Lord is even more precious.
None of this makes death easy for any of us. We will still mourn and grieve over Adria's death, and rightly so as death is a hideous enemy. But while we from our perspective experience sorrow, Christ is rejoicing! Remember His prayer in John 17:24 - "Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world."