READ: 2 Kings 13-15, Psalm 111, Matthew 22, 2 Timothy 4
We are conversant with Paul’s summary of his end: “I have fought the good fight, I have kept the faith, I have finished the race” (2 Tim. 4:6). Let’s not forget that his head was chopped off. Ending well has nothing to do with going to heaven healthy. One of the clearest mockeries of the prosperity “gospel” is 2 Kings 13:14: “Elisha had become sick with the illness of which he would die.”
Elisha, great lion of God, makes the Jordan part, cleanses the water source of a city, calls bears out of the woods to discipline rude youths, predicts victories through music, does miracles with oil, raises a young boy from the dead, purifies poisonous stew, feeds 100 men on pitiful rations, heals a Syrian from leprosy, floats a metal ax head, strikes an army blind, prophecies bread from the windows of heaven, and calls fire down from heaven. Elisha, God’s man of faith and power, gets sick and dies a slow, painful death. A terminal illness takes down the most faith-filled and powerful man of the day. This is the same Elisha whose dry bones raise another man from the dead (2 Kings 13:21).
Ending well has nothing to do with dying rich, respected by man, surrounded by family, peacefully slipping from sleep to the heavens. You may die with all the external trappings of peace, but peaceful passage has historically happened at the stake, on the cross, and moaning in physical agony on a sick bed. If Elisha was mandated to cross over to eternal health on the bridge of terminal illness, how can anyone dare to presume that Christians will be spared the burdens of sickness, suffering, or trial. Further, it is a travesty for any follower of Jesus to arrive at the end of their race with strength to spare. We are to be poured out, spent, exhausted on the gospel. “Nothing in our hands we bring” refers to eternity as much as it does to salvation. We came naked, we will leave naked, so we might as well pour all we have out for the glory of God.
Does God want everyone healthy and provided for? Ultimately (i.e. heavenly), yes. Temporally the prophets died sick, apostles had their heads chopped off, and the Messiah writhed naked on a cross. All ended superbly well. All “faithed” until the end of the beginning, all passed victorious into eternal life. Faith is not about money and wealth here on earth. Faith is about trust in Jesus–that He is real, worth suffering for, worth being sick for, worth being in prison for, worth dying for. Ending well is carrying the supremacy of Jesus’ worth all the way to heaven–no matter how our earthly sojourn finishes.