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FIRST-PERSON: Is it fair? teen asks of deaths of Payne Stewart, 5 others


EDITORS’ NOTE: Following are the reflections of J.B. Collingsworth’s 13-year-old son, Rob, on the death of golfer Payne Stewart. The families were close. Collingsworth, assistant pastor of First Baptist Church, Orlando, Fla., was with Stewart’s wife, Tracey, when word of her husband’s fatal plane crash came from the National Transportation Safety Board. He handled arrangements for the memorial service.
ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)–I continually find myself asking the same question over and over again. Whenever tragedy strikes, whenever an innocent life is taken in vain, accidents, shootings, bombings, I cannot overcome the temptation to ask, “Why? Why do bad things happen to good people?
“Why do school shootings occur so frequently that I find myself almost unfazed when two young men walk into a school and start shooting people? Why do earthquakes happen in California and Turkey, and the death toll rises into the thousands? Sometimes I even wonder if God is up there. Does He care? Why does God allow things to happen that just aren’t fair?”
Monday morning, Oct. 25, something happened, and again I found myself asking that redundant question. Is it fair that six people got on a plane in Orlando and crashed in South Dakota four hours later? Or is it fair that six children are now fatherless, heading into some of the toughest times in their lives?
Why are three women now without their lifelong companions? Why did it happen? Why did the omnipotent, omnipresent, all-knowing God allow six people to lose their lives in an airplane accident?
There is only one hope that we have. Through the grief, the mourning over the loss of friends and family, we only have one person to look to who can bring us out of our despair. I know him personally. His name is Jesus.
No matter what we go through, no matter how many friends or relatives die, God will always be there to bring us through the tough times. Instead of asking why bad things happen to good people, let’s first think of why good things happen to bad people.
The Bible clearly states in Romans that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. There is none righteous: no, not one. So, really there aren’t any good people. We’re all sinners at heart, and without the forgiveness of God, are all doomed to hell.
So, why are we sinners so blessed? Because God loves us! If we get too comfortable with God and what he has given us, if we get to a state in our lives where we begin to think that we are good people because of what we have, as soon as the hard times come, we’ll get what we deserve and be flattened!
The only reason that we have what we do is because of God’s grace and mercy, his eternal and unconditional love! So, the loss of Mr. Stewart, Mr. Ardan, Mr. Fraley (sports agents and fellow believers Van Ardan and Robert Fraley) and the others wasn’t really a loss at all! It was a gain! Paul says in Philippians 1:21 “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
We were so blessed to have those people in our lives at all! My challenge to you is that you won’t get too comfortable with God. Although grief and mourning is totally normal in the death of friends or family, don’t let it ruin your life.
In the Bible, when people died, the mourners were so upset that they would tear at their clothes and weep. When Lazarus died, it says that Jesus wept because he saw how upset Mary and Martha were. He knew that he could bring back Lazarus any moment, but he was deeply moved by their grief.
To tell you the truth, I thought I was going to be sick when I heard the news about the plane. I was so upset I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t do my homework, or do anything productive.
We don’t need to let this weaken our walk with God. This should be a strengthening! James 1 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”
Although we know that Mr. Stewart, Mr. Ardan and Mr. Fraley are in a better place — heaven — we need to pray for their families and friends because they are going through such a hard time right now.
If you are reading this and you are not sure where you would go if you were to die tomorrow, you’d better do a serious check with your life. This accident just goes to show how fragile life really is.