A Sikorsky S-96B helicopter crashes killing 9. One of the nine is very famous. He had talent, fame, and wealth. Even though our country averages 465 accidental deaths per day, this one hit home for many people. Some were hoping the news would prove false, but as the day wore on, the news remained the same. We express condolences on the Internet to the families who have lost loved ones because we don’t know them personally. We pray. We reflect.
Maybe we feel a death like this one because it makes us uncomfortable. We are reminded of our own mortality. We are confronted with the fact that talent, fame, and wealth couldn’t prevent death. Death can come from many places: accidents, the violence of others, diseases, and the inevitability of aging. Death may come unexpectedly, or it may come with a certain predictability as a person’s health declines further and further. This past week the oldest woman in the world died at 127. If her age is correct, she was the last living person to have seen the 19th Century. Yet, we know that death is no respecter of age. Death may come to the youngest among us and to all the ages in between.
The Bible gives us some images for our lives. Hezekiah prayed when he told he was about to die:
My dwelling is plucked up and removed from me
like a shepherd’s tent;
like a weaver I have rolled up my life;
he cuts me off from the loom;
from day to night you bring me to an end;
(Isaiah 38:12 ESV)
Hezekiah’s word pictures reflect the frailty and brevity of life. In a similar way, James uses the image of mist or vapor for our lives (James 4:14). We appear for a “little time” and “then vanish.”
So how should we live? We should make the most of the time we have. We should live our lives with purpose and gratitude. We should live our lives in the right relationship with God, so we are prepared for the life to come. As Paul stated as he reflected on a quote from Isaiah 49:8, “For he says, ‘In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.’ Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2 ESV). Now is what we have with certainty. We must make the most of now.