We are on vacation, arriving last night in Rochester, MN, where we used to live. We have family here and many friends, and two of those friends from our former church very generously invited us to stay in their home and use it as our base for our visit.
When we arrived last night we were saddened to learn that their neighbor, whom we also know from our former church, was found dead in his home last week. Paul was in his late 50's, roughly our age, and without significant known health issues, and his death was completely unexpected by all who knew him.
For Robin and I this news came on top of the sudden death last week of a leader in our denomination, a man who was a good friend of our congregation and had visited us three times in the past 16 months, most recently in January. Tony was in his early 60's a two-time member of the US Olympic team, and looking as healthy as ever when I saw him last month. Like our friend Paul, Tony had no known major health issues.
For reasons I don’t have answers for, the news of these two deaths brought to mind the passing of our granddaughter, Raelyn, in 2015. Just past her second birthday, Rae died following an accident at home.
The thought that brings these three particular deaths together for me is a phrase that is so very familiar: Life is short. Be its span two years or 62 years, human life is short. Rare is the person who does not desire their life to extend a bit longer. Even among people dealing with painful and/or prolonged illness, the desire for healing and a even just a bit more life is often present.
"Life is short" rarely stands alone. Just saying it is a springboard to something else. Life is short, therefore… If you 'google' "Life is short" you'll will see an amazing number and variety of things that people are encouraged to consider once they come to the conclusion that life is indeed short. These range everywhere from the well-meaning to the inane.
I'm going to suggest a different thought to follow "Life is short," which is that "God is good."
The truth is that whatever happens in this life, including its unexpected and seemingly premature end, God is good.
As Christians, we grieve, but we do not grieve without having hope that is grounded in the promises of God to always hold His children. Of the many places in the Bible that speaks to our eternal hope in God, the closing words of Romans 8 are among my favorite;
"For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,
Nothing, not even death, separates God from the children He loves.
Rae, Paul and Tony may have desired a life that was a little bit longer. Their families certainly grieve their passing and they may have a place in their hearts that will always hold sorrow for what never came to be.
But I believe that Rae, Paul and Tony are in the presence of Jesus, who gave His life for theirs. Right now they delight in the visible glory of their Savior and Lord.
Human life, even to 100 years, is short when compared to eternity. And by faith in Jesus, a Christian lives in the goodness of God today, and it is a goodness that has no end.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.