Greetings. I read these verses very humbly because I think there could be a great temptation to take them out of context when applying them to my life. This is Paul speaking....and I find much to take from his example but I can really see a wrong path potential springing from these verses. The wrong path I could see is attempting to apply this with the death of a loved one -- especially someone very young. Not that I don't think the truth of Paul's statements could apply -- but I just see the possibility of someone -- albeit well meaning -- trying to tell a grief stricken person that their dead loved one's purpose had been accomplished and that's why they died. It may be true (although we won't know that for sure until Christ's return) but I think we fail in compassion when we try to explain away the pain. I think that is at the root of my caution in approaching this verse. I also feel cautious because I don't feel my life is fully reflective of Christ...so suggesting that I am living this out makes me uncomfortable and feeling somewhat as less than worthy. Here's where I have a choice...I could wallow in the defeat of my brokenness....or I can place my hope in the author and perfecter of my faith and continue to challenge myself to humbly rely on Christ's victory and His mercy, grace and strength to grow more fully into the person He created me to be.
Lord, thank you for your promptings, your challenges, your reminders of your greatness. Give me your strength as I am too weak to fulfill this journey on my own. Thank you, beyond my words, for your grace, mercy and love for me and all of your people. It is beyond my understanding Lord, but give me the courage to live based on the truth of Your words. Amen.