What do you think of when you want to glorify God? Do you think of a life of service? Do you think of praise and worship? Do you think of witnessing? How about doing some great miracle?
What does it mean to glorify God? To glorify means things like: to honour, to praise, to celebrate, to make glorious, to adorn with splendour, to cause the dignity and worth of a person to become known.
When we glorify God we are acknowledging His greatness and splendour to ourselves and others. Yes, we can do it in the ways mentioned above and many other ways. We want both the physical and the spiritual world to know how wonderful our God is. As the standard of all perfection, it is impossible to exaggerate His worthiness and beauty. However, there is one area where we often do not think of the glory of God.
Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!” John 21:18-19, NIV
Unless we happen to be alive when Jesus returns, we will all face death. If we truly believe that God is in control, that He has chosen us before the foundation of the earth, that He has a plan for our lives, then we must also believe that He has chosen both the moment and the manner of our death. And how we die - and the events which lead up to it - can be a way of glorifying God. No matter how our death many appear from a human point-of-view - fast and easy or slow and agonizing - it can be the triumphant climax to our life for the glory of God.
It may be easy to think of Peter’s death as bringing glory to God. He died a martyr…the ultimate testament to a person’s faith in the living God. But what about someone suffering the pain and indignities of a lingering sickness?
Remember Elisha? One of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament. He did mighty miracles, he healed the sick, he raised the dead. The Spirit of God worked mightily through him. Yet…
Now Elisha had been suffering from the illness from which he died. 2 Kings 13:14
That’s right. Elisha, the great prophet, died from a sickness. Why? God doesn’t tell us. For some reason that was His plan for the end of the great prophet’s life.
Does that mean that God doesn’t want to heal? Or that it is wrong to pray for healing? Of course not. God heals - He did through Elisha’s life. He did through the life of Jesus…and we know how He died. It is not wrong to pray for healing. Death is an enemy and it is not wrong to fight it as long and as vigorously as we can. But one day we will die…somewhere…somehow…
Will our death and battle with death bring glory to God or not? If we are whining, complaining, hiding in fear…there will be no glory in it for God or triumph for us [NOT talking about losing salvation!]. If we can go through whatever process of death that God has allowed to come our way with confidence in the goodness of God, faith in Jesus Christ and a sure hope of the future then we will end our life on a triumphant note. God will get the glory as witnesses on earth and in the spiritual realm once again see a child of the living God standing in faith against all appearances and overcoming.