A student from my school was hit by a car on his way home today. Seventh grade boy riding his bike undoubtedly excited about the three-day weekend. The driver is sixteen, perhaps on his way home from school. Two boys only a few years apart, probably living only a few miles away from each other. Both of their lives and those who care about them are changed forever. For what purpose?
Iím in a meeting with several other teachers when our school principal comes over the intercom stating that a Life Flight helicopter will be landing on our football field. There has been accident nearby and a victim who is not related to our school will be airlifted to a nearby trauma hospital. Later I discover she says that because of students hanging around the school building.
As I walk to my classroom Life Flight circles around the school once and lands quickly on the football field. After helping to shoo students away for safety concerns, I join several other teachers to watch what happens next. Silently, Iím praying for the victim and the family.
Itís an amazing process really, seeing the police and fire personnel work together seamlessly and efficiently. I still think the victim is an adult, but that changes. Our school police officer tells us the victim is a seventh grader from our school. She gives us his name. Thankfully, he isnít one of my students. I donít think I could handle that. But, I do know him. He tried out for my basketball team this past November. I cut him.
Thinking back to tryouts, I picture a tall lanky kid always with an intense scowl on his face. I donít think I ever see him smile. He isnít too coordinated, has an odd jump shot with his elbow jutting out. I watch him many times over three days. I talk with him about basketball, testing his knowledge of the game, trying to decide whether or not to keep him. In the end, I donít think he has the skills to make the team. I decide not to keep him. Do I make a mistake? We donít win a game. Itís not like he couldíve made us worse.
Driving home Iím wondering what if he doesnít make it? Would being on the team have made his final year more pleasurable? As a coach, could Iíve made a difference in this boyís life? Iíll never know. I realize I shouldnít do this to myself. Not everyone can make the team. That doesnít change what Iím feeling right now.
I donít understand. What is the purpose behind God taking away our children? Why put them here for such a short time only to take them back, destroying lives in the process? I know God has a reason for this. The boy is needed for a higher purpose. Fine. Why now? Why not in seventy years? Why not complete your heavenly duty then come down here to live a long life?
I realize God has purpose for everything He does, and I know those are for Him to understand and not necessarily for me. I still have questions. Why not let his parents know, so arrangements could be made, regrets avoided and goodbyes said? Whereís the harm in that?
What about the driver? Just a kid himself. Think heíll ever be the same? The rest of his life just took a drastic and dark turn. What about his parents? How do these parents face the parents of the injured boy? Again I ask, whatís the purpose? If this boy was supposed to be taken today, why traumatize another child and family? I donít get it.
Every one of us has purpose in our lives. Apparently some of us complete that purpose sooner than others. I understand that part, but I donít understand why a child has to be taken. I donít think I ever will.
I know these questions Iíve been asking are probably common for people who are dealing with death and grief. I donít care. Truthfully, I donít even know if I want to know the answers. I wonder if thatís another one of Godís favors, keeping us from knowing more than we can handle.
Itís been said that God never gives us more than we can handle in any one day. Does that mean we are strong enough to handle tragedy, or too weak to handle the purpose behind it?
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