Today a heaviness and weight has descended over my home with the news of a twenty-one year old college student from Erie who died over the weekend. He was away at college when he went missing on Friday night. He was found late Saturday night lying outside, without a jacket just miles away form a brewery where he was last seen on a surveillance camera.
The circumstances surrounding his death are still being investigated while news of the tragedy has begun to spread all over Facebook and news sites.
I didn't know this young man but I did know his girlfriend from high school. She was always a sweet person who never was caught up in the wrong crowd and seemed to be one of the few girls with a friendly personality and good head on her shoulders. A true rarity in high school.
Just a few months ago at the annual Turkey Trot I spotted her and her boyfriend lined up ready to run the 5k. I watched them as they interacted with their family and friends. The bond they shared was evident even from afar, without exchanging a word with either of them. They weren't glued at the hip and I never saw them exchange a kiss or any romantic gesture. They had a simple comfort together and an ease that was undeniable. You could tell that they were at home with each other.
Now, that young man is gone. It is a tragic reminder that life can, in an instant, be turned upside down. I can't even imagine the pain and grief his girlfriend and family feel today. There are no words that could ever convey the anguish of such a loss.
One question is inescapable at such a time as this…why? Why does God allow such a tragedy to ever happen? Maybe this boy made a mistake that Friday night and drank too much or went out with the wrong crowd, but who hasn't made those same mistakes? Why did it lead to the ending of his life? Why him and not me, or so many others who have gone to the wrong places with the wrong people at the wrong time? In all of your love and grace, God, how could you let this happen?
In the midst of all the questions, the truth of God's omnipotence remains the same. This is where faith has to take over if God is still going to remain our God, seated on the throne. To reconcile all that we don't understand we must be prepared to face the difficult questions of "why" with faith that is bigger than our questions.
This side of Heaven we will never fully understand why God allows certain lives to be short while others go on for a hundred years. In our limited insight and understanding we look at the death of someone so young, with such a bright future, and all we can do is beg God to explain the why of it all. But it isn't ours to understand just yet. As 1 Corinthians 13:12 says, "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."
God's purpose for this young man leaving this earth at the tender age of twenty-one isn't ours to comprehend. For now all we can do is rely on God through faith, trusting that His plan is greater than ours.
There is little that can be said to comfort the grieving. All any of us can do is pray for his loved ones whose hearts are heavy with sorrow and the searing pain of loss. May God's love embrace them, showering them with a peace that surpasses all human understanding. There are no words we can offer that will minimize the pain. It is only God who can provide the peace the grieving so desperately need. He is the creator of life and the one who calls His children home. It is He who can give rest and comfort to those who mourn their loss.
My prayer is that God will show Himself in a mighty way to the family and girlfriend of this young man. God, descend on their homes. May your peace invade their lives in the midst of their heartache.