Recently a tragedy happened in a place that I use to call home. I know tragedies happen quite frequently in the lives of many people throughout the world. You hear about them so often on the news that sometimes you forget how violently it many have shaken an individual, family or at times even a nation. But for some reason this particular tragedy hit too close to home and yet I never knew the people personally.
June 29th, while I was busy about my day, the fishing boat Miss Destinee capsized in the frigid waters of Kodiak, Alaska. Two of the crew members were immediately rescued while the other two were listed as missing. I watched the episode unfold on social media as family members and friends hoped and prayed for the best. Despite the best efforts of the Coast Guard and others, the two young people: a brother and sister ages 18 and 22 lost their lives as the unforgiving cold waters rushed quickly inside the capsized boat.
The news gripped my heart as I sat on my cozy couch reading the social media posts and the news releases. I prayed and I wept. I didn’t understand why this particular event stirred me to the core. Maybe it was because they lived in the town I use to call home or that they were friends of people I knew closely or the fact that I had just been there at the church a few weeks earlier joining the young lady and her older brother as they led worship. (I know in my heart that they are now worshiping our Lord…live!) Or maybe my heart ached so furiously because I was sure their parents and remaining older sibling were being crushed with incredible heartache and loss. As a parent I cannot even begin to understand that pain. Whatever the reason for my personal heartache, I had been impacted by the loss, though indirectly.
Life is precious. Each life is precious. To have a life snuffed out so early and so senseless is heart wrenching. It fills the minds of those left behind with questions that have no answers.
Recently, it seems I have known more people who have passed on to eternity. Perhaps that is because I am older and have lived long enough to witness tragedy or perhaps it is because I see it more clearly. Though I have not been impacted by war as some of my friends around the world have, nor gone into war as my son experienced, I hear the echoes and vibrations of its influence. From the terrorist attacks abroad and on our soil, or murderous acts of selfish rage, or horrible accidents to an incurable illness; death is real. Lives are lost and mourning begins.
I do not have any expertise regarding the pain these individuals are going through. I have friends that have lost close loved ones. I’ve attended several memorials and funerals. I’ve cried with those in mourning. I’ve prayed for those left alone. But I cannot give a word of comfort from a deep place of experience. Still I want to somehow reach out and tell the world that someone precious is gone from our world. Someone precious in the sight of the Lord has passed on.
I use to wonder what the scripture meant that said:
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants.” Psalm 116:19 (NIV)
But I have come to believe that he sees each life individually as valuable. Jesus even wept when Lazarus died, knowing he would come back to life on this earth and live in eternity with him. I believe that he considers the death of his followers, his children, as precious because he knows how unique each life was on this earth! And he has a specific place for them in heaven, created just for them — for you and for me — that he is saving. It is like when a friend saves your seat at a particular event. HE is saving our place, with our name already written on it. And when we arrive he welcomes us with open arms and gets excited to see us!
He said: “If I go and prepare a place for you, I am coming again and will receive you to Myself, that where I am you may be also.” John 14:3 (NASB)
God is powerful, yet God is tender. He is wiser than us and his ways are higher than ours. If God knows the number of hairs on our head, and knows the number of days we will live, we must each be extremely important to his heart. I believe that he values your life and my life, the lives of those that have died before us, and the lives of those not yet born more than fine costly gold or increasing strength and power.
He loved us enough to send his son to DIE. It was a costly death. It was a death that left Jesus alone carrying the heavy weight of all the world’s sin and illness. It looked like defeat. But He died so that we…you and I…can LIVE with him in eternity. Otherwise there would be no hope and we would die a second death into the darkness of hell.
I cannot understand why an early death happened to the two young people or why good people suffer. I know that God never promised us continued days of happiness in this life. He did, however, promise that there will be many trials in this world. But he added to that statement saying that he will give us peace through it and we were to be of good cheer for he had already overcome the world. (John 16:33) Thank the Lord.
One of my life versus is: “Trust in the Lord will all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5 (NIV)
So I trust him though I don’t always understand. And I pray for those that are mourning a loss of someone who was extremely special in their lives. God is wiser than we are and loves us more than we can comprehend; only wanting the very best for us. Some of the tests that we have to go through seem impossible! But God will make a way. He said in the book of Luke that what is impossible with man is possible with God.
Whatever you may be facing today. I pray that “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 (ESV)