Friday, July 19, 2013

Lessons from Tragedy by Jeff Wiles

For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home (Matthew 25:35 NLT).

She was thirty-nine years old and one of my wife’s best friends. As much as I wanted the news to be some form of miscommunication, it wasn’t. Kelley was dead. My wife and I had just sat down to watch a movie when the call came. 

I keep asking God what good can come out of this tragedy. I don’t know if I’ll ever have a clear answer, but Kelley’s death revealed how much I take for granted—each moment with my children, my spouse, my friends.

Kelley’s untimely death also reminded me little things matter. More than 700 people visited the funeral home to offer condolences to her family. I imagine Kelley’s gift of doing little things drew that crowd—like the time she massaged my wife’s numb legs while she was in labor. I wonder how many times I’ve exchanged a personal act of kindness for an indirect and impersonal way instead.

And Kelly’s death opened my eyes to my own immortality. She probably thought she had many tomorrows—as I have, but one day will be my last. And what will matter is not the size of my bank account, my house, or my promotions at work. What matters are the relationships I have with the people God places in my life.

Kelly’s life wasn’t a tragedy. I’m certain she received many heavenly crowns, including one with a strange inscription: “For massaging the legs of a friend in labor.” Now I know people say God uses tragedies to teach us lessons, but it wasn’t the tragedy of Kelley’s death that taught me lessons. It was her life.

Are you listening to God’s voice in the tragedies of life?

Prayer: Merciful Father, may we never waste the potential lessons tragedies can teach us.

Why not share this with a friend who needs a word of encouragement?