Life in Death

By Terry Weber

Hurricane Sandy

As I sit to write this, it’s about 72 hours since Superstorm Sandy came ashore in New Jersey, bringing with it a 900-mile-wide path of destruction. The death toll in the 15 States affected by the storm is now over 80. I fear that number will rise in the coming days. Helicopter photos of the destruction in Queens, Hoboken, Long Island, Connecticut, and the Jersey shore are eerily similar to those we viewed 7 years ago after Hurricane Katrina and less than 2 years ago after the tsunami in Japan. We can only pray that Sandy’s final death toll reaches nowhere near the thousands lost in those natural disasters.

Less than three weeks ago, I attended the funeral of a 15-year-old high school sophomore, who died in a motorcycle accident while coming home from school.

Less than hour ago, I returned home from another funeral. A brilliant fifth grade teacher in her early fifties, a mother of four, passed away suddenly from a heart attack.

It seems all too frequently these days, God allows us to ask of Him, “Why, Lord? Why do You allow such things to occur?” Perhaps no answer to that question is completely satisfying and certainly no philosophical or theological answer can instantly assuage the unspeakable grief suffered by those closest to these tragedies.

Maybe the answer has something to do with the way so many New Yorkers are offering help to each other: friends with power hosting friends without; neighbors digging out and beginning repairs on another neighbor’s house; volunteers bringing bagged lunches to a soup kitchen with no power, but still with lots of homeless clients who rely on the soup kitchen for a meal each day.

Maybe the answer also lies in the gift of life given by the family of that 15-year-old, when they allowed six different organs to be harvested and given to someone in desperate need of a transplant.

Maybe the answer is also contained in the enormous outpouring of love expressed by the large church filled to its seams with people touched by the life that fifth grade teacher. Her current fifth graders were in the front row with their families just behind. It was a service of “Death and Resurrection.” Each person in that church heard Jesus’ words in John 14:1-4:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”