The words that are to follow this introduction are deep feelings of mine but I must admit that they pale in comparison to those who have been directly affected by tragedy, namely, the death of a family member. It has been the tragic events of others connected to me that have spawned these words. It has been the death of three that have provoked much thought, introspection and prayers to God.
Within eight days three people that were connected to my family in one way or another passed from this life. The first was thirty five year old Benji. He was one of the first people I met when I moved to Massachusetts. The youngest of eight brothers and sisters, vibrant, charming and full of life, he inexplicably collapsed and died putting his son in his car seat in Florida. A couple of days later "baby Jacob" as our kids referred to him as, lost his fight for life in a Calgary, Alberta hospital. Our family and many others in our church family prayed for him daily. His heart condition did not get better. He died. Just a couple of days after that, my good friend Rose from Massachusetts emailed me the news that a lady named Kim had lost her battle with her disease. Her kids were in my youth group. My wife taught her children. Three deaths. Eight days.
When I got the news that Kim had passed away, I was overcome with emotion. Not that I was a close friend to all of these, no, the miles and years had separated us. However as tears flowed down my cheeks I left my office for the sheer fact that so much death in such a short amount of time had cut my heart wide open. I couldn't hold it in.
So many things were going through my mind, all of which were disturbing on some levels. Why does a man in his mid thirties just collapse and die? What will those kids do without their mom? Why do 18 month old babies die? Then there is the BIG question that my daughter asked. Maybe God didn't hear us when we prayed. Now that haunted me.
When we heard all of this news my wife said, "you can't have life without death". She was making the statement not as a teaching moment, but as an observation. In this life we will have troubles, sorrows and difficulty. Jesus pointed that out to us. Living with death has to be about hope. We do not sorrow as those who do not have hope. We hope that we will see our loved ones again in the resurrection. We hope that the pain goes away eventually. We hope that we can learn from our difficult circumstances. Yes, even death can teach us things. It teaches us that our days are numbered. It teaches us that we are mortal. Death teaches us the value of life and the value of the living. Death teaches that all of us will be touched by it's cold hand eventually in life. Death reminds us that what we know and experience will end and most of it is meaningless. Death conjures thoughts of standing before God.
So I walk away from this sorrowful situation a hurting but hoping human. I realize that "precious in the sight of the Lord is the perishing of his saints." I hurt in myself and for those I know who experienced the tragic loss. I hope one day to see them again.
O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?"
I Corinthians 15:55