Yesterday I learned that an e-friend’s baby had died in the womb. She realized she hadn’t noticed any movement, and the doctor confirmed that her small heart had stopped beating. Her much anticipated child would have to be buried when born. She will never know what this child would have become, and would never be able to bring her home. Such an untimely death!
But is any death timely? We do expect to see the old die. But not the young. Little did I suspect that when my barely 14-year-old son left on a water-skiing day trip on August 27, 1991, I would never see him alive again. I considered that death quite untimely. A vital member of our family was suddenly removed from our table. I would never know whom he might choose to marry. We would never be grandparents. I would never know which career he finally would have chosen.
In 2003, we lost a dear friend, only 44, suddenly and unexpectedly. He was a regular at our table on Friday nights and on holidays. And then he was gone. Way too soon, in our opinion. At least he left no wife and children, but he was like another son to us. And he, too, left a hole in our lives.
And now we know of another young man, in business with his wife. They have small children. And he is sick, always in and out of hospitals, sometimes near death. And his parents have lived with the knowledge that since birth he has been in danger. And we hope and pray he will continue to live to see his children grow up — that he will not meet an untimely death.
I have wept with many mothers who have lost sons who were not yet out of high school — some in accidents, some with illnesses they didn’t know about, but all suddenly, without warning. Untimely
And yet, it seems that no matter when the grim reaper appears to take someone, it is not timely. My own mother, at 89, who had said she had no real reason to continue on, was shocked when she received word from her doctor that she had only two months left. And all of a sudden, that seemed untimely to her. She found out then why she wanted to keep living. But it was too late, and she departed on schedule, finally giving in to the inevitable, not afraid, but still wishing she didn’t have to leave us behind.
When I lost my son, I still remember the words that brought me the most comfort. A pastor’s wife wrote to us, and shared that her brother had died at the age of 16. She shared these words from Psalms 139: 13-16
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
Excerpted from Compton’s Interactive Bible NIV
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My Comforter reminded me that there are really no untimely deaths in the eyes of God — only in our own eyes. All of us live as many days as God has planned for us — no more, and no less. And then he takes us home to make us perfect as we can never become while still here.