My nephew, Kenneth St. Romain, Jr. (aka Lil Kenny) was killed in a boating accident on May 20th. Another man was also killed, but two survived, including Lil Kenny's son, who helped rescue a man from the other boat.
Lil Kenny was only 45, a successful dentist, with two children. He loved life and was generous in helping others in many ways. But this reflection will not be a eulogy, as that will no doubt happen elsewhere. What I hope to do is to address questions that are surely on everyone's mind, to some extent: Where is God in all this, and how could God have allowed such a thing to happen?
These are most difficult questions to respond to, but it's good to begin by remembering that we are not alone in making such an inquiry. This very day, many others will lose their lives in tragic accidents, children will be killed by bombs in Putin's insane war on Ukraine, and countless other young people will be hurting from rare and debilitating diseases. My mother used to tell me it was good to recall such things when one suffered, as it helped to awaken a sense of solidarity and compassion with others in pain. Suffering can turn us in on ourselves, but that need not be the case.
It's common to think that a tragic death is simply "not fair," that God could have and should have done something to prevent it. There's also an unspoken belief that a "normal" life is one in which we live many years and die at a ripe old age, surrounded by loved ones at our bedside, with visions of family members and the Lord coming to receive us into heaven. That's a good thing to hope for, but it's nothing we have a right to expect.
And that's the problem, you see: expectations. It's tempting to think that Lil Kenny was somehow cheated out of several decades of life he had a "right to," but was unjustly deprived of. Try as hard as I might, however, I can find nothing in Scripture to support that kind of notion. The real gift to us is this day, then the next, and so forth, and if we live them well, then we will be ready to go when death comes. An abrupt departure such as Kenny's is most difficult on family and friends, but we can also rejoice that we got to know him at all and be enriched and blessed by his life.
So what of God, then?
God gives us life and opportunities to grow, but generally does not directly interfere in the lawful operations of nature. People die from all sorts of causes that we wish God could have prevented, including tornadoes, lightning, floods and wrecks in vehicles. In God's loving providence, great good can come from these tragedies, but not without suffering and even death. In our suffering, we are joined with Christ's own suffering, and in our dying, we experience what he, too, underwent for our salvation. "Nothing can separate us from the love of God poured out in Jesus Christ," Paul told us (Rm. 8:39), and that includes the tragic death of a loved one. He is with us in our mourning, as He promised in the beatitude, "Blessed are they who mourn, they shall be comforted" (Mt 5:4). It's important to ask for and be open to receiving this comfort from Him.
The teaching of Christ is that we ought to always be ready. . . to live each day as though it were our last, for we do not know the time nor the hour of our death. Lil Kenny's death reminds us that this day -- this moment! -- is the gift we receive from God, and it is an opportunity to choose the way of love, or selfishness. Let us choose well, for life is short, sometimes much shorter than we had hoped it would be.
Edit, 5-25: Lil Kenny was 45, not 41 as the original post stated.This message has been edited. Last edited by: Phil,
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