The last 4 days have been unusually difficult. It was just a little over 4 days ago that a beloved dentist and brother in Christ from my former days in Middle Tennessee lost his life while out on a morning bike ride with a friend. What was supposed to be a typical morning quickly turned into a nightmare for one family. To make matters worse for this family, their son was involved in a near fatal motorcycle accident only a few months earlier and is still not fully recovered from his accident.
I did what many of you probably do when you hear of someone passing from this life, I prayed for the family and asked God to bring the comfort that only He can provide to this hurting family who now must spend the holidays without a husband, father and friend.
Then something else happened. Tuesday afternoon two Knox County buses were involved in an accident that sent nearly two dozen children to local hospitals and took the life of three others (an adult school aid and two young children). I am heartbroken for all those involved and their families. As a parent, I cannot begin to image the pain and agony those families must be feeling right now. They put their children on the bus that morning fully expecting to see them get off the same bus that afternoon. For some families, that never happened.
And just when I was starting to finish up my work for the day, something else happened. My wife informed me that our neighbors had just received some pretty devastating news. Only a couple of days earlier they were celebrating their son’s 11th birthday. Last night, they were praying for God to work a miracle in the life of this same son. Their son was diagnosed with a malignant tumor on his skull. Due to the size and nature of this rapidly growing cancer, he will need to receive chemotherapy and radiation immediately before they can perform surgery to remove all the tumor.
As I arrived home last night, I hugged my wife while trying to fight back the tears. I didn’t say much, I just held her tight. Then I walked over to my son and picked him up. Usually daddy comes home and immediately chases him around the living room while he looks for a place to hide. On this night though, I didn’t want to chase my son. I simply wanted to hold him in my arms and never let him go.
As I sit here today and reflect on the events of the past couple of days, I am reminded of a few lessons I sometimes easily forget.
- Life is short. James tells us our lives are like a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away (Jam. 4:14). We need to cherish every moment we have with those we love because we never know when it will be the last moment we are able to spend with them.
- Satan is an ever-present entity whose main desire is to rip the faith we hold dear right out of our hearts. He wants nothing more than to bring sadness, heartache and pain into our lives in hopes that we will turn our backs on God. Remember Job? Satan told God the only reason Job was so faithful was because God had placed a hedge around him and his house. Then Satan went and attacked Job and his family in hopes of destroying his faith (Job 1:6-22). This is the same hope Satan has for you and me today. He wants nothing more than for us to turn our backs on our heavenly Father.
- God is always there for us. In our darkest hour, it’s easy for us to want to blame God for not being there for us and for not having our backs. The truth is God was, is and always will be there (Matt. 28:20; Heb. 13:5). He has never once left us alone, even during our darkest hours. When we hurt, God hurts. Likewise, when we rejoice, God rejoices. God loves you and me and will be there for us during every step of our journey (Rom. 8:38-39).
- The pain of this life is temporary. Just as our lives are but a vapor on this earth, so is the pain that comes with living here. We may hurt today, but for Christians the day is coming when God will remove all our pain and never allow us to feel pain again. John wrote, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever” (Rev. 21:4). What a glorious day that will be!
I woke up this morning hoping the last few day were just a dream, but they weren’t. Each tragedy really happened and the families affected are still grieving this morning and will continue to grieve for a long time to come. Please join me in praying for these families in the difficult days that lie ahead. The road will be rough and they will certainly need our prayers.
Friends, may we all cherish the time we have with those we love while on earth and long for the day of glory where there will be no more heartache or pain ever again.