A dear friend of mine recently lost his father unexpectedly. He went in for a routine surgery and was gone within 2 days. He was 63 years old.
In situations like that, the first thing that comes to mind is why?
Why did that have to happen? Why him? Why now?
A lesson learned
I can remember when I learned something about this for the first time. I was sitting in the passenger seat of my dad’s car. He was behind the wheel. We sat still on a bridge dangling over the interstate, waiting for the green so we could roll forward. You could feel the rumble and sway of the bridge as the cars to the right passed by.
I was rambling on, as teenagers often do, about a story I heard about a guy who was struck in the head by a flying bird while he was out fishing on a boat. He fell over, knocked unconscious, and drowned. All because a bird wasn’t watching where he was going.
What I said next revealed my true heart at the time.
“That sucks. I mean, there’s no one to blame.”
My father, gazing out his window, slowly turned his head my way. He looked me square in the eye, his voice steady as a train, and said,
“Does it matter?”
I don’t know what I said next, though I can guarantee it was something sarcastic. I was a smarta — well, you know what.
But it never left me. In fact, I’ve thought about it a lot since that day, mostly later after graduating college.
Does it matter if there’s someone to blame for death?
See, my Dad meant more than just pointing out it doesn’t matter if there’s someone to blame for death. He was saying I missed the point. It’s so easy to do when we look at death from a human perspective.
At the funeral for my friend’s father, I experienced first hand that it doesn’t matter who’s to blame in the end. If anyone had a right to be upset and blame someone else for the grief they were experiencing, it was this family.
But that’s not how it went down.
There were worship songs like you would hear at a megachurch, with full-on drums, guitar, and bass. I mean praise music. There were stories and some sadness, but there was also celebration of life. Not just the celebration of the earthly father we were remembering, but for the heavenly Father we can all call our own.
My friend gave a short eulogy I’ll never forget. He handled it with much grace, infusing it with his signature humor I’m sure his father smiled down on.
He said we all know life’s not fair. We don’t always get what we deserve. But that’s the point. Because of God’s amazing grace, none of us has to get what we deserve, which is good news because all we deserve is to be nailed to a cross. But we don’t have to be because Jesus bore that burden for us.
Then, speaking for his family, he said we know it’s not fair. But we also know that God loves us. That he cares about us. So we’re not mad. We’re not angry like we know we could be.
Friends, in the end it doesn’t matter if there’s anyone to blame. All that matters is if you’ve accepted Jesus as your savior and lived in a way that pursued him each and every day.
Have you experienced similar feelings when losing someone?