Life is precious and oh so sweet

I just returned from South Brunswick High School where almost all of the high school students in my youth group attend as well as my oldest daughter. Normally, this wouldn't be an unusual event at all since I sub there a few times a month and I man the carpool duty there every afternoon. But today was different. I was there for the worst possible reason.

This morning a high school senior, a vivacious and popular fireball of a girl named Lily Beatini, died tragically in an auto accident not far from the school. Word in the form of rumors spread fast - I got my share of text messages - with everyone wanting to know what was going on. When my phone rang and I was officially told the tragic news, my heart sank. I didn't know this young lady personally other than being her substitute teacher on a couple of occasions and watching her play lacrosse, but I knew that she was well-loved and respected by all of her classmates. Her death has left so many students staggered and at a loss for words.

I drove with a heavy heart to the high school to see if there was any way that I could help. When I arrived I was told that several of the students in my youth group were assembled in a classroom and were expecting me. Tears of grieving teenagers greeted me at the door and I saw first hand the pain and anguish in their eyes. As I sat down with them to talk and listen, the first question I knew that I had to address was, "Why?"

Why? Why does God allow things like this to happen? Why does an 18-year-old who is set to graduate in a couple of weeks have to die? It just doesn't seem fair, does it?

Honestly, I have no good answer for those questions because I simply don't know the answer. But there are some things that I do know about tragedy and death:
  1. We will all one day die. I don't like to think about this for myself or for anyone else that I love for that matter, but death is the reality, not the exception. And for most of us, we are given no warning when it will come. I hate death. Not so much because it snatches away loved ones from but because when God created life in the beginning, death wasn't in the equation. We were made to live, not die, but sin ruined all of that. Death makes me hate sin all the more.
  2. God is good. In spite of all the tragedy that seems to surround us everyday, the one constant that we can rely on is the goodness of God. Oh, I know it doesn't seem that way when bad things happen and there may have been times where you were convinced that God was anything but good. Yet when we examine our day-to-day lives and we realize how God sustains us and meets our needs and answers our prayers and blesses us in spite of what we deserve, that's when we gain the proper perspective. God is indeed good and He grieves over the same frustrations and tragedies that almost devastate our souls.
  3. Death does not have the final say. Death stings and it stings badly, but it does not win in the end. When God sent His Son Jesus, He came to defeat sin and conquer death. On the cross, Jesus forgave the sins of the world. When He rose from the grave, he told death to literally go to Hell. For those who place their faith in Jesus, this life is only the beginning. What awaits us when we pass from this earthly existence into the presence of God in heaven is what we are truly waiting for, for that is when life really begins.
Those words make sense and many of you believe them as I do. Yet still, the sting of death is hot and the pain is real. And that's the way it's supposed to feel. It hurts and it sucks. So allow me to leave you with a few suggestions on how to face the pain that death brings while also embracing the life that you were meant to live:
  1. It's okay to cry. Pain is, well, painful and it touches us to the depths of our emotions. So go ahead and cry and get it all out. It's okay. God created your emotions and that's what they are there for.
  2. Don't go at it alone. We were all made to live in community with each other, not be Lone Rangers. As you struggle to understand why these things happen to people that you love and care about, choose to struggle together. Be with your friends, sit around and talk and laugh at the good memories, cry on each others' shoulders, and enjoy being together. We are always better together.
  3. Take advantage of the simple things. A simple wave at a friend or even an acquaintance always means something. Smile at people. Take time to watch the clouds as they roll by on a sunny day. Walk barefoot. Stop to chat even when you're in a hurry. Think about what you say before you say it. Call or text a friend you haven't seen or heard from in awhile. Ferris Bueller said it best: Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.
  4.  Seek after God with everything you've got. Remember, as awesome as this world can be, you were created for so much more than this life can possibly offer you. Jesus came that we might have life and life to the fullest, so seize every opportunity to connect with God and live in awe of your Creator. Pray to God and give Him your needs, go to church or youth group, take time out of your busy day to the read the Bible, enjoy the fellowship of other Christians. Do all of this in anticipation of much greater things to come.
Life is precious and life is sweet. Don't miss it.

8 comments:

Unknown said...

Spoken by a wise man. Amen

Pamela Rohrer said...

Thank you for those words of life. You always say just the right things!

Pamela Rohrer said...

Thank you for those words of life. You always say just the right things!

Elizabeth Pham said...

Thank you for your wise words. All of us here at the Olde Brunswick Store are devasted. For the short time she work with us, we love her. This article brought comfort to us all here. Thank you so much and may God be with Lily's family, school and the community who love her so much.

Elizabeth Pham said...

Thank you for your wise words. All of us here at the Olde Brunswick Store are devasted. For the short time she work with us, we love her. This article brought comfort to us all here. Thank you so much and may God be with Lily's family, school and the community who love her so much.

Jeff Von Horn said...

Truly sad at the timing of this loss and the nature of the accident. Although I did not know Lily, I can certainly feel the anguish and emptiness that must be shared by those who did. God called his own Son home in a tragic circumstance and none of us are immune from mortality. Hug your loved ones, slow down and breathe. Live in the moment and be grateful. Our children are precious and a reminder of both the beauty and vulnerability of life...prayers for her friends and family.

Cindy Bliss said...

Thank you for sharing with us, Sterling. Praying for you as you minister to the students and all those who knew her. Praying for the family and friends of Lily.

Sheila Rowan said...

Thanking God for your presence in the lives of those in your church and community, as you minister to them at this sad time...My heart hurts for the family, and her friends in the community! Sending prayers!

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