Friday, September 23, 2005

Two Separate Deaths--God's Will? A Christian Reflection

Two stories in today's news:
Boxer Leavander Johnson died today of complications resulting from a brain hemorrage. The boxer was injured during a featured fight at the MGM-Grand Hotel in Las Vegas last Saturday night. His promoter, Lou Dibella, was quoted as saying, "...this was not a situation where anyone failed Leavander Johnson. It was just God's will. It's a sport that's inherently dangerous."

Don Maurice Airline, 24, of Metairie, Louisiana, who evacuated to Texas and then to Tennessee to escape hurricane Katrina, was found dead in Chattanooga, less than a mile from the Red Cross shelter he had been staying at. He had been shot in the head five times. The motive may have been to rob him of his relief money. At the time of his death he was preparing to move to a motel. He was also scheduled to begin work at a new job tomorrow. His mother, Sheila Airline said, "This is how God had it planned. He was evacuated out of the storm and out of the storm he gets killed."
Tragedy brings emotional trauma and confusion to those effected by it. Always. Every time. It is our natural inclination to seek meaning in such events, to find a purpose that can give some measure of value to the loss.

It is sad, indeed, to be in a position to say, as anti-Iraq war mother Cindy Shehan asserts, that her son "died for nothing."

When the tragedy involves death, something deep within us desparately cries out, "No! He must have died for something!" But what is that "something?"

One of the two people quoted at the beginning of this post lost a client/friend/business partner. The other lost a son. Both, almost instinctively, turned to God for the anwer to the question, "Why?"

"It happened," they seem to say. "Therefore it must have been God's will."

This sentiment seems to bring a sort of comfort to many people during such an ordeal. But the idea is not a very deep one and begins to unravel rather quickly if it is looked at very closely.

Could it be that the death of Leavander Johnson or that of Don Maurice Airline was the unalterable result of God's eternal edict? Was it etched in stone that each of these men should die in this manner from the day that they were conceived?

If this is what Leavander's promoter means; or if this is what Don Maurice's mother means; then what does this mean?

A quick glance at he Bible...

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