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Responding to Tragedy By Preparing for Eternity

The hard reality in this life in which we live is that we are never far from tragedy. We live in a fallen world and are surrounded by an unyielding barrage of heartaches. This is certainly not to say that life doesn't have its fair share of joys and victories -- indeed it does! However, the presence of laughter and celebration never mutes the cries of pain that seem to persist no matter what.

Sometimes it is the death of a global superstar like Kobe Bryant last week that causes us to consider our own mortality. Other times it is the tragic events of someone you have never heard of that makes you stop, take a deep breath, and think about eternity.

Yesterday in the city of Moore, Oklahoma, a driver plowed into a group of student-athletes who were outside running after school. According to news reports, six students were hit by the truck. One precious teenage girl was killed, while the other five were transported to the hospital, where three remain in critical condition.

Early this morning, I came across the Facebook post of the father of the girl who was killed. I do not know this family at all. I have no personal knowledge of them other than my heart breaking for them in light of the tragedy that occurred yesterday. But what I read from the father has gripped my heart this morning. He wrote, "She died doing what she absolutely loved, and she didn't suffer. In the blink of an eye she was in heaven--she had prepared for that journey years ago."

...She had prepared for that journey years ago...

I reached out to this grieving father today and thanked him for his words. I asked his permission to share them as a means of challenging and encouraging you this morning. He expressed to me his desire for her life to continue to bring glory to God, even after her death.

This is the task for each of us. We must be prepared for the instant this life comes to an end, and we step into eternity. "But that's so far away," we always tell ourselves. But one day, we will say to ourselves the same thing, and it will be proven just how wrong we were.

The question is not whether or not we will meet the Lord -- we will all most certainly do so. The question is simply, Are we prepared for that moment?

Some people never adequately deal with such a question because it makes them uncomfortable. What a tragic mistake. The reality is that in the midst of this unspeakable loss, the one thing that is bringing comfort to this family is the knowledge that this student did, in fact, prepare for eternity.

One day, in the blink of an eye, we too will step into eternity. Let it be made clear to everyone around us that we had long before prepared for that moment. And until that day comes, let us be encouraged by remembering the precious truth that Jesus conquered death so that we who are in Christ live, even though we die. Read and be comforted by the Scripture that this girl's father posted for all to see, just hours after this tragedy.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Brothers, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who are without hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, we also believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him.

By the word of the Lord, we declare to you that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a loud command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will be the first to rise. After that, we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord.

Therefore encourage one another with these words.


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