Driving to church for a meeting on Tuesday night I passed a bad accident. Route 15 was backed up and traffic was at a near standstill for several miles. Like most commuters, when the traffic first slowed I was annoyed at this unplanned inconvenience. But as the big picture came into view I joined many other rubberneckers staring at the chaotic scene saturated with an abundance of first responders. Police cars, fire trucks, ambulances all over the place. As we tend to do in our family when seeing such things, I sent up a prayer on behalf of the afflicted and the first responders. Sadly, the closer my route took me towards the scene, the image was heartbreaking. A large SUV lay upside down, off in the ditch. Medical workers still swarming around the car. Then I noticed, off to the side of one of the ambulances, a stretcher; it was covered in a white sheet. You’ve seen enough of the news and crime scene television shows to know what that means. My heart sank and my prayer immediately took on a different tone. Lord, have mercy!
Just like that, in an instant, a life (perhaps multiple) is sadly snuffed out. Tragically this type of calamity happens far too often. Death is never good and always unwelcome—especially when it comes so suddenly. And it could happen to anyone of us, at any time. We’ve heard it before, “Two things in life are certain… taxes and death.” Hardly an uplifting message. This may be somber thought, but it is an unavoidable reality. Car accidents. Senseless shootings. Terminal diagnosis. Life is a gift and no day is guaranteed. This should cause a person to stop and think—a time to reflect and recalibrate. It did for me last night. What are some of the things you keep saying you’ll get to? I’m not talking about things like finishing your basement; we all have an unending list of home projects. Nor am I referring to ways to further keep yourself busy at work to climb the proverbial corporate ladder. What about the more important things? Visiting your parents. Taking your kids to the park. Taking your grandkids fishing. Going out for dinner with your spouse. Volunteering at a nearby charity. Finally taking some time away from work to go on vacation. Beginning healthier habits and taking care of yourself.
Far too often, these are the things we put off. They sit on the backburner until we forget about them or they fall off completely. We’ll get to them… eventually… we hope…
As Christians, there is one more certainty in life. One we dare not overlook. Indeed it is far better than the previous two! “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6) The Lord’s presence in our lives is more sure and certain than anything else we spend our time doing and projects that we may foolishly prioritize. That’s our incredible comfort in the face of sadness, death, and bad news. God is here. God loves you. God is with you. This is something that cannot be taken away from us. This is why the echoes of Easter hymns are still sung from our pews and in our hearts. The victory of our risen Jesus is so desperately needed in the sorrows of a somber and sinful world. The life and presence of Jesus still brings hope amidst tragedy. God gives strength, all the time. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” (Psalm 46-1-3)
Knowing that God is with us, we would do well to rejoice in the gifts He gives us each day. Of course this isn’t always easy and often unnatural, as we feel the stress and tension of outside factors and influences. The Devil never stops prowling in his pursuit to distract and destroy us. People will often joke, “If I’m upright and above the ground, it’s a good day.” There is more wisdom and awareness in this cliché then we realize. Take no day for granted and make sure to enjoy the people and blessings that the Lord has filled your days with. As the old adage goes: “Each day is a gift from God. What you do with it is your gift to Him.”