Josh was special.
His mother experienced a very tough pregnancy and there were complications at birth, yet Josh survived that difficult beginning, for which his parents were exceedingly grateful.
He showed talent and promise early in life, and he grew into a godly young man. His parents loved him deeply.
Josh learned a trade, following in his father's footsteps. After a few years of working on his own, he made the decision to leave his profession and enter into fully supported ministry.
He was a strong leader and very charismatic—the kind of guy that affluent people wanted to be around and blue-collar guys would follow.
Josh could have chosen to minister to people in the United States. Instead, he saw his mission as expanding the Kingdom of God to all parts of the world, and he chose another country.
Josh was a dynamic preacher. Crowds of people would flock to hear him. His messages also contained real spiritual meat. He was extremely sound doctrinally and no one who knew his Bible would dare accuse him of proclaiming false teaching.
Josh committed himself to mission work. His effort paid off and he helped grow a small community of faith.
Tragically, not everyone appreciated Josh's ministry. Some of the native religious leaders found his message threatening. They offered trumped up charges to local government officials who, unfortunately, did not always seek to do right. Events spiraled out-of-control and, incredibly, some political leaders executed Josh.
Members of Josh's congregation were crushed. Where was God in all this? Why would God allow such a good man—with all of his life ahead of him—to die? Why did God allow him to die in such an unjust way?
Has tragedy ever happened to you? Has catastrophe struck anyone you have known? Have you ever witnessed someone young and full of promise struck down with major illness or death—and all of that promise go to waste? Has a family member suffered an unspeakable tragedy leaving all of you wondering why God let you down?
Maybe you suffered through a job loss. Perhaps you lost your health. Maybe you agonized through the death of one of your children.
The truth is each one of us at one time or another has probably experienced an encounter with the painful side of life in a fallen world. It may have left you shaking your head and questioning the work of God.
I certainly cannot account for what God actively did or passively allowed in your circumstance; however, I can say this. Returning to Josh’s story, as strange as it may sound, I'm awfully glad Josh died.
You would think that a guy who was such a good missionary, good preacher, a guy who made such an impact on people, and a guy who was such a good man would be indispensable. The fact is… it was his death that was indispensable.
You see, after Josh died, some of his friends buried him. Three days later, he rose from the dead. Yet, the spiritual accomplishments rooted in that 72-hour period defied description. As strange as it may sound, the tragedy of Josh (Joshua, or as we in my country call him–Jesus) was the most important event in human history. In addition, the reality that his resurrected body departed this world meant that his spirit remained—residing in the physical bodies of his disciples, which empowered them for ministry.
I am still trying to learn from those who loved Josh long ago. What appeared to be a tragic and unexplainable mistake of God would ultimately prove to be the greatest blessing for people. God continues to work in that mysterious way.
As for those worried about what Josh might have missed dying so young, I would say that he has had a pretty good life for the past 2000 years.