Somebody was going to die on that Thursday.
Oh, I know. Somebody is going to die every day. Somebody is going to die before this sentence ends, but chances are it won’t, and can’t, affect you much.
But on that Thursday two weeks ago, the links that would lead to tragedy were already chained together, and someone not far from where I live and closely tied to a number of people I love was going to die.
The tragedy was set in motion on Wednesday night as lightning struck out in a field, hitting one of the big sprinklers on the farm. Its now-lightning-welded connections became one major link in a very unlikely but deadly chain of events that mindlessly conspired to send 480 volts through a pump housing. Whoever touched it would die a millisecond later. Guaranteed.
It could easily have been one of the farm employees. Or the father of that well-loved farm family. Or the son about to turn 30, married just five years with two little sons of his own.
But Thursday somebody was going to die. And it was the son.
As I looked into the eyes of that father and that mother, standing near the lifeless body of their son at the emergency room, a young man who had been filled, far more than most, with life and joy just a little while before, the kind of son any parents would be proud of, a boy not only loved but intensely likeable, it tore my heart out. And right now, again, I weep for them all.
On one hand, I can’t imagine being in their shoes. On the other, . . . This young man was buried on his 30th birthday. I have four sons near his age, one who is just 10 days younger and will be 30 this week. And all of mine do work just as dangerous.
Life is dangerous. And unpredictable. And unfair. It’s good that we don’t dwell always on those facts, but an event like this slams them back into our faces.
No one can make sense out of this kind of thing. And even if we could somehow understand it, do we think we’d like it better?
I know some reasons that even God has to allow pain and suffering in this world now. Even God can’t make powerful things (like electricity), which bless us in so many ways, totally safe. The same tools that can spare life can take it away.
I know that death is part of this world because of man’s sin. God loved us so much he made us free creatures so that we could choose to love him or not. Even for God, to create us free to love means creating us free to hurt and be hurt and open to tears.
I’m not sure why anger is one of my first reactions when people I love are hurting, but it is. (Read the Psalms, and you’ll see God can handle that.) I’d be last in line to blame anyone for asking where God was on Thursday.
But I think the answer is that in a way we cannot now imagine, God was there, hating the pain and suffering and loving that son and that family with a fierce and divine love.
Somebody was going to die on that Thursday. Nothing could have stopped it. But life and love and joy and laughter will have the last word forever because the Father who is all love allowed his Son to die on a Friday long ago so that death itself will die.
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Copyright 2013 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.