“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; (14) whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.
James 4:13-14 (NKJV)
Life is filled with many unexplainable things. Perhaps we are never more aware of that fact than when we are faced with death. We view death as a curse, even as an enemy. Death always seems to catch us unprepared. Today is such an occasion. When someone dies at such a young age, so unexpectedly, we are faced with some troublesome questions and feelings. Grief tends to make us turn inward with questions.
We ask the question, “How did they die?” While such thoughts are natural they prove themselves not particularly helpful. How a person died is not nearly as important as how they lived.
We ask ourselves and others, “Why has this happened?” Yet it is obvious that no one can give a satisfactory answer, because no one knows. When death comes it shatters our plans and it causes us pain. But whatever you are feeling today let me encourage you to take it to God. God is big enough handle your pain and even your anger. The only things that God can’t help us with are those things that we refuse to take to him.
We also hear statements like, “What a tragedy!” But while death is troublesome it need not be a tragedy. Death is inevitable for all of us but tragedy only for the unprepared. The truth is that each of us in turn will meet death. We are not give a choice about whether to meet death, or even when we will meet death, only how we will meet death. Faith in God is how we can make sure that our death is a triumph not a tragedy.
A poem I read expresses this idea better than I could, and so I would like to share it with you.
When Sorrow Comes
When sorrow comes, as come it must. In God man must put his trust,
There is no power in mortal speech, the anguish of our souls to reach,
No voice, however, sweet and low, can comfort or ease the blow.
We cannot from our fellowman take strength that will sustain us then,
With all that kindly hands will do, and all that love would offer too
We must believe throughout the test that God has willed it for our best.
We who would be his friends prove dumb, words from our lips but feebly come:
We feel, as we extend our hands, that one power only understands,
and truly knows the reason why so beautiful a soul must die.
We realize how helpless then are all the gifts of mortal man,
No words which we have the power to say can take the sting of grief away,
The power which marks the sparrow’s fall must comfort and sustain us all.
When sorrow comes, as come it must, in God a man must place his trust,
With all the wealth, which he may own, he cannot meet the test alone,
And only he may stand serene who has a faith on which to lean.[Edgar Guest. One place it can be found is Sofine’s Edgar Guest Collection - www.sofinesjoyfulmoments.com/quotes/edguest.htm]