The Righteous Is Taken Away
Thank God! The Lord brought my sister back to the Heavenly Home in the morning of Sunday, October 23. According to His good will, God redeemed my sister in her youth so that she would be purified and declared righteous through His loving Son, Jesus Christ. God also chose her at this time to be tested in her faith and patience through illness, so that her quality of godliness would become perfect. And by her testimony amidst suffering, Christ would be magnified through her being, and the perfect and good will of the Lord would be made known.
On May 26 of this year, I first learned of my sister¡¦s diagnosis of lung cancer. The malignant tumor had grown to a length of 5 cm in her lung, and the cancerous cells were very active throughout her body. I was overcome with myriad emotions at the time, and fervently prayed before God for His grace of healing, and for Him to render His mercy and kindness on my sister. I had worked for over 20 years in a hospital, and saw many enactments of earthly joy and sadness, separation and reunion, birth, aging, sickness and death. I learned not to ask people, ¡§Why was this formidable disease contracted at such a young age?¡¨ My sister was only 55. I also learned not to ask God, ¡§Why?¡¨ I will only ask, ¡§Why not?¡¨ Having been a believer for many years, I know something of the nature and handiwork of God. I know that all assets and encounters of His children are the planned and bestowed blessings of God. How can we be more intelligent than the Omniscient, more aware of the mysteries of the human world and the inner secrets of man? How can we be more powerful than the Omnipotent, able to subjugate life? The longer and better we know God, the more deeply we identify with what the prophet Isaiah said, ¡§Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, 'What are you making?' Does your work say, 'He has no hands'?¡¨ (Isaiah 45:9)
At devotion the next morning, God immediately conveyed to me the following words, ¡§The righteous perishes, and no man takes it to heart; merciful men are taken away, while no one considers that the righteous is taken away from evil.¡¨ (Isaiah 57:1) The latter part of the passage - ¡§the righteous is taken away from evil¡¨- instantly made me surmise that God would take away my sister. Nonetheless, emotionally I begged the Lord to pity and cure her, because she and I shared a deep love as siblings. Besides, from the time I was called to be a servant of God to the present, having come here to serve at the Richmond PEC, my sister had frequently prayed for and kept watch over my ministry and our church. Last year she even helped in the children¡¦s program at our summer camp. In the period before September, as I faced my sister with her ever deteriorating body, I dared not bring up with her the words delivered to me from God. I could only pray ardently for her, exhort her to finish the walk of life, and complete God¡¦s will. In my private prayers I even wrestled with God, trying to procure for her from God some more days of sojourn on earth. Doesn¡¦t her remaining, even recovering, bring great glory to God? And like Paul I too hoped to experience mercy from God, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. (Philippians 2:27) Many times I pleaded with the Lord to spare her life, because she had a strong sense of crisis concerning our church¡¦s spiritual battle on No. 5 Rd., and was a boon to us in the preservation and expansion of the gospel. If God took her, it would not merely form an irreparable breach in her family, the earth would lose a person who faithfully kept watch and interceded for others.
The day before she left us, my wife and I visited her. I read to her the prayer of the prophet Jonah in the fish¡¦s belly (Jonah 2) and sang the hymn ¡§Saved by Grace¡¨. She was especially alert that day, and asked me if it was true that construction of the proposed ¡§Big Buddha¡¨ statue on No. 5 Rd. had been temporarily halted. She also exhorted me to lead the church to faithfully stand up and fight for the Lord.
Dear brothers and sisters, the life of a person is short and fleeting. One day we will all see the Lord face to face and recount the grace of our salvation. Look around at all the signs of the end of age today. Man¡¦s heart is becoming ever more evil and his sins are increasing in severity. Morality and conscience are totally lost. Natural disasters are gaining in magnitude and frequency, whether they are earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, famines, diseases, plagues, or the recent threat of an avian flu pandemic that can potentially cause widespread fatalities. Let the words ¡§the righteous is taken away from evil¡¨ be a reminder to us not to love this world, but be vigilant, steadfast and wait patiently. I said to my sister, ¡§when you see our glorious Lord with your own eyes, please give him a message from me, ¡¥Lord, please come quickly. Lord Jesus Christ, I long for your coming!¡¦¡¨
By: Daniel To