Tonight I have a heavy heart for a family that is hurting somewhere in Georgia. A tragedy has taken two family members and the lives touched by these two is no doubt impacting countless other people right now. Every day we hear of an accident, a diagnosis, or news of someone who was called home after a long life. We read the names on prayer request lists, in our church bulletins and in the local news. But it never really hits home until the name is of someone in our inner circle...someone from our early years...or someone who has made a difference in our lives. But in reality...since all of us are connected in the family of faith...what happens to one of us...happens to us all.
We don't really think about death because life gives us so much to think about in one 24 hour period. We get up, move forward, do what we need to do, and the minutes turn to hours to days, weeks, months and years. We go to - or avoid - reunions, and we are happy to catch up on the positive things that have happened in the intervening years. We watch our children grow from babies to preschoolers to high school graduates in what seems like an instant. But yet we somehow grasp that time will not march on for us forever. Maybe we bury a beloved pet after years of enjoying its unconditional love. Or we see the effects of aging in our faces and hairlines.
Yet for all of this...time fools us because we feel like the young people we were on the inside...even though our bodies are beginning to inform us that the odometer of life is continuously turning over. And every so often we will get news of someone prematurely passing away...and it jolts us back to the knowledge that life is short.
We may attend funerals from time to time. Sometimes these are for people who have had a long and wonderful life and have reached the years when the quality of life has become tenuous. We celebrate who they were to us...caretakers...neighbors...friends. Other times, people have had time to deal with the knowledge that their bodies are failing them and it is almost considered a blessing that the pain is over. But the times when it comes at us out of left field...are almost impossible to get our arms around. Much less our hearts.
Our next breath is not guaranteed. Our happiness is not either. We can do everything right...and have the rules change on us midstream. Some things that we try to analyze them just don't make sense...like when the undeserving win or when people make a royal mess of their lives and are able to come out intact on the other side. Unfortunately, although God is in control, tragedies exist in this life. We can't even begin to guess why that is. We just have to trust that there will be an exit door to the pain at some point.
That exit door is called hope. Some people find it easily and others have to live in the valleys of despair for several seasons. Those with a strong faith can pull themselves out of the abyss using it as a lifeline. And those who have been there before can be the most effective witnesses by showing that it can be done.
I am sad for the news that I received today...and will be praying for the family. I know that God is with them...and believe that all of us need to remember what really is important. Faith...family...and friends. Be grateful if you have one of the three...overjoyed if you have two...and blessed beyond measure if you have all three. And if you do...be sure that those who are the closest to you know your heart...even if it feels particularly heavy right now.