A few years back our community was saddened
by the deaths of four people, all suddenly and all within a week. In a community of approximately 6,500, you realize that the loss of four people (who were a vital part of the community) is significant. This created heavy sadness as we were all grieved at the loss we all felt here.
Most people–if in our thirties upward–are usually jogged when the loss takes a woman in her early forties, a woman and man in their fifties and a sixty year old man suddenly. We are shocked and suddenly drawn to ponder the brevity of life. That probably is not such a bad thing to do once in a while but it is difficult on the heels of four deaths in a row.
The first death was extremely sudden and the gentleman was a custodian in our schools. A good man and loved by the kids and staff as well. He leaves a wife and several children. His funeral was even at the High School where he spent so much of his time. My daughter went to school with his son and stepdaughter and she even made it home to attend his funeral.
While preparing to come home for that funeral, my daughter also got word of the death of one of her best friend’s sister. She had been hospitalized suddenly a few weeks prior and given a short time to live. Friends, she was only forty-two, a wife and mother of two young men! My daughter being so concerned for her dear friend was beside herself. Needless to say she planned to return home once again to attend another funeral. This one was a bit more personal because she had known the family since a young age.
The man in his sixties was unknown to me but many others knew him. I don’t really know anything about him but I believe that sixty is just too young! I have a friend whose husband was impacted by his death because they graduated together. How hard it is when we begin to see people our own age die.
Finally, I want to mention the life of a vivacious woman who I had the privilege of knowing (as many others did) because she was dedicated to helping people achieve their college degrees. Several years prior she was dealt the blow of cancer and survived only to have it return again and take her. She left a husband, daughter and many people who loved her for her kindness and fun personality, but mostly because she seemed to genuinely care. Her life has had an impact on many because of the job she held at our community college.
Death is an interesting process that we will all have to go through as the life process completes. It will come to all of us! It will have an affect on the people in our sphere of influence and most probably on our families. To those in the process of grieving the loss of someone it can just be so difficult to process through. We miss those who are taken at such a young age and unexpectedly. We wonder about all the “what if’s” and what could have been done differently, and all the things we should have said to that one who leaves us so suddenly. Chances are good that for a time we will change the way we look at life as we see it a bit shorter than we did previously.
I recently had my own epiphany regarding life and its brevity. My belief in Jesus Christ has given me a fresh outlook on life and one thing I know is that it is the Lord who gives and takes away. His hand is providential and He guides us along the way. Yes, things like cancer and poor health can come along and zap us but the Lord permits all things to happen to His children. Not one thing happens that hasn’t been run through His loving hand, and He is aware of everything that affects our life.
In the third chapter of Ecclesiastes we read from the pen of King Solomon (the wisest of men) that there is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—
A time to be born, And a time to die;
A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill, And a time to heal;
A time to break down, And a time to build up;
A time to weep, And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain, And a time to lose;
A time to keep, And a time to throw away;
A time to tear, And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, And a time to speak;
A time to love, And a time to hate;
A time of war, And a time of peace. (:2-8 NKJ)
How is your life today? Like me you might choose to run about, harried with too much to do—without much thought about tomorrow. But let me encourage you to look out beyond yourself today. If we could just make a difference for one person each day we have on the face of this earth, we will make a significant difference and be remembered for how we loved God and loved each other! I continue to say that I want to finish this earthly race strong. Whether in sickness or in health I can make a difference within my sphere of influence.
Friend, how about you? How is your heart today? Will you look beyond yourself and see others the way God sees them?
Father, show me who it is today that needs an extra touch of kindness. Let me be the one who will do something kind for someone who needs help today. Use my words of encouragement to help that struggling one to go another day! Let me bring words of hope that will make a difference, in Jesus Name, amen.