With evidence seeming to confirm that missing Malaysian Flight #370 most likely crashed into the Indian Ocean, leaving no survivors, Grant Castleberry of the Gospel Coalition shared his own story of loss in an article entitled I Lost My Dad in a Plane Crash, Too. In it, he shares that loved ones of those who die in tragic accidents like these are plagued with questions such as, “Were these people worse than others who arrived safely in Beijing on different flights that day?” He counters this idea of karma by affirming,
“The reality according to the Bible, however, is that ‘good people’ don't exist. We are all sinners deserving death (Rom. 3:23; 6:23). Paul puts it like this: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one’ (Rom. 3:11-12)…
So the answer to the question is that these people who perished were no worse than you and me. They were all sinners in need of grace.”
Castleberry goes on to describe how the death of his father in a plane crash led him to understanding and repentance, and ultimately to Christ. On Crosswalk.com, John Piper explains that,
“Repenting means experiencing a change of mind that now sees God as true and beautiful and worthy of all our praise and all our obedience. This change of mind also embraces Jesus in the same way. We know this because Jesus said, ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God.’ Seeing God with a new mind includes seeing Jesus with a new mind”
“…none is excluded. All need repentance. And the need is urgent. Jesus said, ‘Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.’ What did he mean by perish? He meant that the final judgment of God would fall on those who don’t repent. ‘The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here’ (Matthew 12:41). Jesus, the Son of God, is warning people of the judgment to come, and offering escape if we will repent. If we will not repent, Jesus has one word for us, ‘Woe, to you’ (Matthew 11:21).
As we are dealing with the difficult emotions of loss and grief in the wake of this tragedy, these authors remind us that walking rightly with God is necessary – because we are not promised tomorrow. But how can we keep ourselves from living in fear of calamity? Felicia Alvarez's article Letting Go of Our Escape Plans is written about relationships, but its principles can certainly be applied to broader areas of Christian living. In the article, she writes that many people make every choice dictated by fear of the worst, or they refrain from fully investing in their lives and relationships so they can avoid being hurt.
“Escape plans...aren’t smart. Frankly, they can be detrimental. If you’ve already secretly strategized exit routes, what will be your first reaction to trouble? Will you fight for your marriage? Or put your escape plan into action?”
As we ponder the advice of Piper to seek right relationship with Christ, and of Alvarez to live boldly not be constantly creating “exit strategies,” let us remember Paul’s famous words to Timothy:
“God gave us not a spirit of fearfulness; but of power and love and discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).
Publication date: March 26, 2014
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