Why do some live longer than others?

Why do some die young, while others live long lives? We can come up with all of our fanciful ideas as to why God lets one live and takes another.

I have heard them all regarding my own son. People will say things like, “Maybe God was saving him from something bad,” or “It’s just that God wanted another angel (and/or “flower“) in heaven. The list goes on.

For me personally, I fall back on the fact that I will probably never know why. And even if I did, I seriously doubt that I would understand.

But one day I will. The Bible promises that, saying, “Now we see things imperfectly as in a poor mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me now” (1 Corinthians 13:12 NLT).

So why does God take choice servants “before their time”? For example, Stephen was but a young man, and yet he became the first martyr of the early Church.

In Stephen’s case, God used it to get the believers, who seemed to be “land-locked” in Jerusalem, out of their comfortable “holy huddle” and take the gospel to the other regions.

Because of the wave of persecution against the Church following Stephen’s death, the believers spread out,and so did the gospel. Then the very man hunting them ended up coming to Christ! I am speaking, of course, of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus who became the great apostle Paul.

It was still a great tragedy that a man died so young,and many godly people wept when he died.

God has His purposes

Why does he allow torment for some and triumph for others? No one can say this side of heaven.

The Bible tells the story of the wicked King Herod, who arrested and executed the apostle James.
This was James, the brother of John, who was a close personal friend of Jesus when He walked this earth. And just like that, he was gone.

Seeing that this pleased the religious leaders who were not fond of the the growing Christian Church, Herod went and arrested Simon Peter, their leader. It looked like the end for the great fisherman, but the believers prayed and God delivered Peter from his prison and he lived to preach another day.

Why did James die, and Peter go free? It’s hard to say. Life just doesn’t make sense a great deal of the time. But God has His purposes that often remain a mystery to us.

“They died before their time”

When we say that someone “died before their time,” we are making a false assumption, that assumption being everyone has the unwritten promise of a long life. We operate by the greeting of Spock from Star Trek, “Live long and prosper!”

The Bible makes no such guarantees. The Bible says that our times are in His hands. It also tells us that “there is a time to be born,and a time to die” (Ecclesiastes 3:2 NLT). We have nothing to really say about the date of our birth or death.

Then again,we have a lot to say about that space in the middle: “So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12 NKJV). To “number our days” means to make the most of our time.

So here is how it breaks down:

  • Don’t take any of your loved ones for granted.
  • If there is someone you need to tell that you love them, do it now!
  • If there is a change you need to make in your life, do it now!

I’ll talk some more about this tomorrow.


9 thoughts on “Why do some live longer than others?”

  1. Dawn says:

    Pastor Greg,

    The maturity of your wisdom in knowing that we cannot know God’s ways is a reminder to us that no matter how much we try to figure out God’s ways and reasons, we fall short.
    It reminds me of this comforting scripture:

    Psalm 139:16
    your eyes saw my unformed body.
    All the days ordained for me
    were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.

    I continue to pray for you and your family the continuing comfort of the Lord as we begin the holiday seasons ahead of us. I also am thinking of Brittany especially now as she is soon to give birth. Please let us know how she is doing.

    In God’s love,

  2. Julie says:

    The death of our loved one sure changes everything here on earth! A part of our heart has a gaping hole in it (that will be filled in heaven).

    Your posts, coming from this place of sorrow, have such power, such inspiration, and are anointed by the Holy Spirit.

    Thank you for sharing so transparently, so honestly!

    Your thoughts really bless my heart!

  3. Loni says:

    My 19 year old son listens to your podcasts and told me about you, and now i’ve been reading your blog and “meeting” you. I am a blessed mom of a dozen children – 10 on earth and 2 with their Savior. We had a stillborn daughter almost 11 years ago, and four years ago our 16 year old son was in a tragic home accident that took his life I can so relate to what you have written, and even the verse above, a time to be born and a time to die, was in his funeral service bulletin.

    Life is hard – but God is good. Though our son made a foolish mistake that took his life, I am so thankful he knew Jesus personally, and is forever glorifying Him. What an assurance we have, and someday, our tears will be wiped away.


  4. Karen says:

    Pastor Greg –

    Thank you for sharing. I continually pray for your family. Two years ago, at the age of 26, I became a widow when my husband (age 27) went to be with the Lord. Thursday would have been his 30th birthday. Oh how he desired to see his 30th birthday, but it was not God’s plan. It has always been hard when people have said that Daniel “died too soon” or “died before his time.” Daniel went home when the Lord called him. It was God’s perfect timing and he did so victoriously in Christ. I realize that sometimes people don’t know what to say to a grieving family member, but we must remember that God is controller of all things. Daniel did not go unwillingly, he did not go with regret; he was victorious, God is victorious. God’s timing is equivalent to perfection; even if those of us left behind do not understand. God is always seated on the throne.

    Continually praying for you and your family.

  5. Mariana says:

    Hi Pastor Greg,

    Thank You for today’s post. I usually find myself without words when I’m with someone who lost a loved one, whether believer or not. So, I limit myself to a hug and just state that he/she is not suffering (when they’re health was fragile) and/or that they are not suffering anymore and already in a much better place. To be honest, I only tell this to people I know were believers, if they weren’t I just don’t have it in me to say it, cause I don’t know for sure, so I just say that I’m with them in their pain.

    There’s a couple of verses I like, talking about our time on earth:

    “Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.
    Remind me that my days are numbered—
    how fleeting my life is.
    You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.
    My entire lifetime is just a moment to you;
    at best, each of us is but a breath.” Psalm 39:4-5 NLT


    “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” James 4:14 NASB

    My mom used to tell me James 4:14 all the time when I was little, still don’t know exactly why, but it has stuck on me along the years.

    So, given those two passages of Scripture, I can’t really say that people who go young or old go on or before their time, I honestly don’t believe that. I believe that the Lord takes people when their time has come, and since the Lord’s timing and ours is just not the same, well, that’s why it can seem to us that a young person “goes before time”.

    I think the Lord takes us home when we have accomplished what He sent us to do, that is, when we fulfill the plan He had for us here (His purpose, not ours)

    It may seem a lot of time to us, specially after one of our own goes ahead of us to Heaven. But I think to them, it’s just a brief moment, from when they get honme to when we get home to be with our Lord and them.

    Eternity is not usually our daily perspective. I always remember James 4:14 when there’s fog on the highway, and it reminds me that the Lord only shows me His will so far, and that my life is as brief as that midst that appears for a short time, and then vanishes away.

    My prayers are still with you and your family.

    In Christ,


  6. Diana says:

    Dear Pastor Greg, your faithfulness in your grief is humbling. I’m so sorry for your loss. Thank you for continuing to bless the name of the Lord as He gives and takes away.

  7. christopher Australia says:

    Dear Greg,
    We are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witness to the life of faith (those like Chris) who have finished the race, we must keep running, light and with speed. Before long no man will be able to work.

    Keep running…….running toward home.


  8. April says:

    There is a verse the Lord showed me yesterday while I was pondering the same question. Yea, we don’t know the exact reason some people die sooner than others, but this comforted me. I am 17 and my mom died 5 months ago, in June. All the Lord said to me thorugh His word was
    “But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases”– Psalm 115:3. I know, how could I find comfort in that, but I did. I realized, it’s all for Him. Everything is ALL FOR HIM.

    Still praying for your family. Blessings in Jesus.

    In His love,

  9. Anne says:

    I admit that when I heard about Christopher’s death that I never knew quite what to say in response to your blogs. I’ve written on a few, but on the most part I really didn’t know what to say. But I guess it’s better than saying something that really doesn’t help. So I will leave it as previous posts…You and your family are continually in my prayers…

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