Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Walter Cronkite, Patrick Swayze. The older I get, the more I recognize celebrities who die. For a long, long time it was just River Phoenix and Kurt Cobain. Everyone else who died was old when I was a kid, so it didn't affect me much. But the deluge of celebrity deaths this summer has really made me sad. It also gives me the creeps. I start thinking ridiculous things, like, "Are these the end times? Are these people being punished for their misdeeds? What did Patrick Swayze ever do to anyone?" And then I think about my own life.
I had a rough year once. In April 2007, my cat died. Then my mentor teacher died. Then my mother-in-law was in a serious accident that left her bedridden for 3 months. During that time, my father-in-law succumbed to lung cancer. 7 months later, my father died suddenly of a heart attack. This past summer, in addition to the celebrities, 4 people I knew (or at least knew of - their loved ones are my loved ones) died. It's not the end of the world (as we know it and I feel fine) or punishment or anything else. It's just life. Life ultimately ends in death. The Bible talks about death a lot. Psalm 116:15 is a verse that has both angered and comforted me when I've lost loved ones. "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints." It's funny that it took the deaths of these celebrities this summer to make me start thinking about my own mortality. Because it's not that something new is wrong with the world. It's that I'm at the age now where famous people I grew up with are dying. Some of my friends' parents are dying. It's just another stage of life, which means I'm getting older and closer to my own demise. I'm not going to lie - even though I know I'll go to Heaven, the thought of death freaks me out. But my point is not to dwell on mortality or to be especially morbid. My point is that I've realized that my "bad year" was just life being life. It was nothing special and it certainly wasn't unique to the human condition. Because honestly, I've had other "bad years." There was the year my grandfather died, my parents divorced, and my house flooded. And the year when I was 4 and my parents and I all had the flu at Christmas and we were really far away from our family and I had a kidney infection and and and. You see what I mean? I could get really morbid and pessimistic if I thought about this stuff too much. Jesus told us it would be hard. It should come as no surprise when life is hard. In fact, John 16:33 says, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." It's the last part of this verse I'm going to focus on. He's overcome the world. And I am truly blessed.