In the years that followed the Fall and our exile from Eden, mankind got worse and worse. Cain killed Abel; Lamech threatened to kill everybody else. The wickedness of the human heart seemed out of control and unstoppable, even by the curses. People were living for seven, eight, even nine hundred years. Can you imagine the arranging that one person could accomplish with that sort of time on his hands? Stubbornness seems to come with old age. Haven't you heard your grandmother sigh and say of your grandfather, "He's set in his ways"? Multiply that by a factor of eight or nine, and you get the picture. So God dealt the ultimate blow. "Then the LORD said, 'My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years'" (Gen. 6:3). He cut our life short; nobody gets to pass 120. However clever we might be in our ability to conjure Paradise, we can never get around death. It is the final thwarting.
You must follow me very carefully now. We can never fully explain the reasons surrounding someone's death. We've come to accept it for the aged, and we try to console ourselves with thoughts like, He's had a full life. But death is never natural; it was not meant to be. This is why those left behind experience such excruciating pain. The agony is only worsened when the death is what we call "premature," when it takes a life in full bloom, or just as the bud begins to open. Each death can begin to be understood only within the Larger Story God is telling. Much of that story remains for the moment a mystery.