To Cause Us To Examine Our Priorities
The death of your child has undoubtedly caused you to examine the priorities in your life. What you once deemed so important seems irrelevant. It would be a tragic mistake to reject the implications to you of your child’s own death. If you have not yet thought deeply about your own mortality, now is the time to do so. “Death serves to draw our attention to what really matters—the state of our souls, and the God and people who will outlast this life. Death is a wake-up call, a reminder that our time here is fleeting and everyone’s going to die.” Randy Alcorn, If God is Good, 404. In a culture where we take great steps to avoid conversations about our own mortality, our child’s death serves us notice that we ought to be concerned about eternal things—most specifically, the state of our own souls.
In Psalm 39, David prays a prayer that most contemporary Americans would not pray. He prays that we would not be caught up in fleeting matters of earth.
“O Lord, make me know my end
And what is the measure of my days;
Let me know how fleeting I am!
Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths,
And my lifetime is as nothing before you.
Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!
Surely a man goes about as a shadow!
Surely for nothing they are in turmoil;
Man reaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!”
By knowing your end, and how fleeting your life is, you won’t get caught up in inconsequential matters, such as collecting wealth and the consuming it. If we really had a grasp on how short life is, how many of us would be as concerned as we are with our financial situation? Or the future of our career? While our society is build around valuing income, title, prestige and personal consumption, the death of our child allows us to acknowledge that none of these things are lasting, and may, in fact, get in the way of what is truly important in our lives.
Carolyn Arends writes, “Death unaddressed is the bogeyman in the basement; it keeps us looking over our shoulders and holds us back from entering joyously into the days we are given. But death dragged out from the shadows and held up to the light of the gospel not only loses its sting, it becomes an essential reminder to wisely use the life we have.” Arends, Going Down Singing, Christianity Today, April 2011. Since my son’s death, I have been blessed to have a clearer understanding of my own mortality, the mortality of my family and friends, and a greater desire to depart and be with Jesus and my son. I hope that, through your child’s death, you would develop a more realistic understanding of the brevity and nature of this earthly, temporary existence, what is truly important, and how to make maximum use of your short time on earth.
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