Upon hearing the news of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna’s tragic death, I, like the rest of the world was saddened. Why would God take this former NBA superstar and his rising star daughter so early in life? Kobe, a children’s book author, was as successful after basketball as he was while playing in the NBA, which isn’t always the case with professional athletes. In addition, his Christian faith was growing. He reportedly prayed at his parish prior to taking off in the Sikorsky S-76B helicopter.
I know the fragility of helicopters first hand. I was a news intern at WFAA television years ago and in my first week at the station I tagged along with a news reporter and a photographer on an assignment in Cleburne, Texas. To get there faster, we traveled in the station helicopter. At age 22, It was my first helicopter ride so I was a bit apprehensive. I was in the front seat, next to the pilot who sensed my fear. He joked with me as we crossed over one of the lakes on the way to our destination. “Do you know how to swim?” he asked with a smile on his face, and weaved the chopper back and forth to add to my nervousness.
But then in a split second, the atmosphere in this tiny air taxi turned very serious. “Pull the red lever! Pull the red lever!” I fumbled around looking for the red lever. I never found it, so the pilot ended up yanking the red lever back himself, which operated the fire screen between us and the compressor, that had malfunctioned. If the compressor had caught on fire, it could have ignited the helicopter. To avoid becoming a flying torch, the pilot had to cut the engine and auto rotate to the ground. Bracing for a crash, we landed with a thud, but we were okay.
The next week, however, that same helicopter with the pilot, the sports photographer and his wife aboard, were trying to feed some Baylor football highlights to us at the station. I was the one taking those highlights in. But the cloud ceiling was low and in order to transmit the video the chopper flew lower—too low— and in the process got caught up in some telephone wires, then crashed, killing everyone aboard the helicopter. I realized that if the photographer’s wife had not gone along with her husband to Waco, I probably would have been the one who traveled to log the game and I would not be writing these thoughts on this blog.
Why did God choose to preserve my life that day? Why does the Creator take some—and spare some? Why do some people struggle with debilitating diseases, and some remain relatively healthy all their lives?
There were other children and coaches on that helicopter with Kobe and Gianna. Why are they rarely mentioned? Is one life more valuable than another?
These were the kinds of questions Job asked after God allowed his children to be killed, his wealth to disintegrate and his health to be taken. Job’s friends thought he had sinned in some way to bring on this collapse but Job was an innocent man.
So we ask, “Why do good people suffer?”
I believe the answer is that it is not for us to question God or know why there are these tragedies in the world.
After Job and his friends dialogued about his sad scenario, the LORD appeared and posed some questions back at Job. “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me if you know so much. Who determined its dimensions and stretched out the surveying line? What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? Who kept the sea inside its boundaries as it burst from the womb, and as I clothed it with clouds and wrapped it in thick darkness? For I locked it behind barred gates, limiting its shores. I said, ‘This far and no farther will you come. Here your proud waves must stop!’” (Job 38:4-11)
When we realize that it is through Almighty God’s hands the world and galaxies were created and that He keeps everything in balance, when we take God out of the human box and exalt Him on His throne, we shirk back in reverance and we don’t question His ways. We realize He is God and we are not.
Through the reading of Job, I am convicted even more to respect God and trust my heavenly Father when the worst happens, to know that He has a purpose in the pain. Often, through one death, countless are saved. God knows that fact firsthand. That’s what happened when he sacrificed His own Son, Jesus, on the cross.
I believe Kobe Bryant’s death brought mortality back into plain view. I am sure countless people are still pondering the meaning of life and have perhaps determined it’s time to get right with God. Through Kobe’s passing we are reminded that we are not guaranteed tomorrow. We need to, as Psalm 90 suggest, “number our days.”
Job’s words were few after his encounter with God. He repented and realized that he should have never questioned his Maker. He said, “I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me.”
Ultimately, in the midst of horrific trials, we must believe in Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Why and how God uses tragedy to create good is not for us to question.
Categories: Devotion of the Week