Sunday, August 12, 2007

Tragedy, Joy, and Why We're All Here

Son Number One has a friend on the swim team named Andrew that we had not seen this season. We found out yesterday that he died shortly after Memorial Day from a congenital problem with his vascular system. This is upsetting in several ways. First, thirteen year old boys are not supposed to die; they are supposed to play basketball and eat cheeseburgers and dream of becoming an astronaut and fall in love with the girl next door. They are the very essence of vibrancy and potential and enthusiasm and life. They are not supposed to lie on the couch suffering from stroke symptoms and tell their mother they don't want to die. There is a fundamental sense of unfairness here that makes me both sad and angry this morning.

Second, it was undetectable and unpreventable. Andrew was born with a countdown clock that would give him a sixth of the time that most people get here on Earth. He was destined to die early and thus not experience all this world has to offer. Again unfair. You see, if you're smart enough you can prevent disease. If you're quick enough you can prevent accidents. But there's no way to reach inside yourself and rearrange your capillaries.

So now I look at each one of my children and I wonder what their countdown clock says. I want to know how much more of this life they get to enjoy. It is unsettling to be kept in the dark about these things.

But despite the anger and sadness and resignation there is also joy. Andrew was saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. He is with the Father and he is whole and complete and perfect and he doesn't have to worry about which veins go where. And that, beloved, is a reason for joy and celebration. His mother is like a rock, albeit a misty eyed rock, in her conviction that Andrew is in a much better place.

Her faith in God's providence is how Andrew's death is an event that ultimately glorifies God. I can't always explain His purpose in these matters but I can see when things happen for a reason. I know that it is really God who prevents disease and accidents. Or doesn't. And I know that He moves this world with a sure hand. We're here to trust in that hand and to keep our focus on Him.

Andrew now swims in living water. His arms never grow weary. His legs always kick true. And he is surrounded by a crowd that never stops cheering.


Two Write Hands said...

"It is unsettling to be kept in the dark about these things."

Yes, it is. And it's also unsettling to know. There's a sure tension in this world that I'm sometimes (and sometimes not) grateful I don't fully understand.

von Darkmoor said...

Powerful thoughts, Jeff, I appreciate your sharing them. I feel for you and your son. What is somewhat interesting for me is that I just read your post and a post over on Brian Dalton's blog about the first funeral he ever attended (at age 48), and the observations offered by the both of you.

It is much easier understanding the timing of death when you're the one writing it -- and not just of it -- isn't it?