Amy Welborn has just announced the sad news that her husband, Michael Dubruiel, has died. My deepest sympathies and heartfelt prayers are with Amy and her family at this time; the loss of a loved one is always a tragedy, but a sudden death adds to the pain of loss the bewildering questions: why? why now? what could we have done? that haunt those left behind.
There is a tendency in these moments to think that if only we had known, or seen, some crucial clue the outcome might have been different. But I think that's a temptation to be rejected; God can, and sometimes does, save those we think are doomed to die, and He can just as easily call home to Himself someone we were sure would live many more decades.
The truth is that we are, all of us, living in the valley of the shadow of death. None of us will escape death; some of us will taste it sooner rather than later, while others of us may remain on this earth to see our grandchildren's children. God alone knows how long He has planned for our earthly lives to be; each moment is a unique treasure, and the years we have given, however many or few, are a gift of love by our Father Who hopes we will use them to become like His Son.
But lest the sting of death seem capricious or unfair, we should remember two things. The first is that death was not God's choice for us, but our own. Our first parents made the choice of disobedience that led to death for us all; thrust from the Garden into a world of pain and suffering and endless toil, death might almost have seemed like a mercy to our ancient forebears.
The second is more important. We are immortal. And because of the sacrifice, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have the hope of eternal life. Death, then, is sad because we must part, for an unknown length of time, from some dear and familiar person; but it is not the sorrow of being forever sundered from our beloved that fills us. As we mourn, we also pray that the deceased will speedily enter Heaven; we commend him to God's mercy, and pray for the repose of his soul, that he will soon be with God, praising Him in the courts of Heaven surrounded by angels and saints.
We walk together in the valley of the shadow. Even when the one who has fallen is not known to us, we join in the prayers for eternal rest, and for the healing and comfort of the family. We are brothers and sisters in Christ, after all, and we can't remain unmoved in the face of the suffering of our fellow Christians. Comforting those who sorrow and praying for the living and the dead are works of mercy; as we show mercy, so shall mercy be shown to us in our hour of need.
So I pray tonight for the repose of the soul of Michael Dubruiel, and for healing and comfort for Amy Welborn and her whole family. I know that many, many others will be praying this prayer in the days to come, too, and the Father Who loves us all will hear our prayers, and will answer them in His generous love and boundless mercy.