Psalm 116:15 (NIV): Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants.
I can remember where I was when I received the call, but I don’t remember what I was doing. Probably cleaning my room.
My cell phone rang. The caller id listed the name of a college friend who rarely called me. Intrigued, I answered the phone. Joe greeted me with somber tones and said that he had bad news.
One of my best friends had died of hypothermia from a boating accident.
She was 21. She was healthy. She loved Jesus.
The rest of the day is a blur to me, filled with tears and few words. I remember going on a silent walk with my dad. He knew that I could not be alone, though I did not know how to put my grief into words.
Too young. We were all too young for this tragedy.
The death of a family member or a friend is one of the hardest circumstances for a human to experience. As we grow older, we face death more and more. We become acclimated to it, but the pain never lessens.
We all deal with grief differently. Some people cry; others are stoic. Some people desire company; others wish to be alone. Some people focus on work; others sit in silence. No matter the symptom, we all deal with grief. The question is: what brings us through it?
We who know Jesus know that there is life after death. We know that Jesus died and rose again so that death would not be the end for those who have placed their faith in Jesus for their salvation.
Those who die in Christ go to be with him in paradise. They are waiting for us who believe to join them in a place where there is no more death, no more sickness, no more sin, no more decay, no more tears.
So, when we face death, we do grieve. But, we do not grieve like those who have no hope, as Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 4:13. We have hope. We know, because of Jesus, we will see our loved ones again. The pain of loss that we experience (sometimes for the rest of our lives) will be healed one day when we are united in the presence of our Savior.
Psalm 127:3–5 (NIV): “Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.
As a member of 4-H for nine years, I participated in many projects, including photography, model aircraft, model watercraft, pie-baking, and others. If anyone asks about my favorite, I have to answer: archery.
Now, though archery was my favorite project, it was not my best project. I could never hit a target consistently. Maybe I should reword that sentence: I could never consistently hit the target.
I placed a hay bale in our yard behind our house and tacked a target to it. Every day, I practiced placing an arrow on my string. Every day, I practiced pulling the string back to my cheek. Every day, I practiced sighting down the arrow. Every day, I practiced releasing. Every day, I never hit a bull’s eye.
But, some days I hit the target!
No matter the outcome, I was out there shooting target each day. My parents and my leaders drilled into my head: “Practice makes perfect.” In my case, “practice makes permanent” was more likely.
I did not become a warrior, in any shape or form. A warrior can shoot an arrow straight, true, and consistent, hitting his mark every time. A warrior realizes his purpose and passes that purpose onto his arrow.
The Psalmist says that children are like arrows in the hands of a warrior. A child is supposed to be trained and prepared for the day when he or she will be released into the world. A child on that day should be able to be shot straight and true, because of the parent’s training. On that day, the parent should let that child go, because they both have been preparing for all their lives for the arrow to be released.
However, often as parents and children, we desire to go fishing with arrows, instead of warring with arrows. A fisherman ties a string to his arrow so that he can pull his arrow back to him. That is not the right image.
A parent is a warrior, preparing his child to be released and then releasing.
Pastor of Calvary Bible Church, Neligh, NE. Missionary with RHMA. Husband to Maggie. Father to Grace, David, and Daniel. Saved by Jesus Christ