After tragedy ensues, many people are left questioning, "why do bad things happen to such good people?". Well the truth is, bad things just happen. Bad things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people because we live in a broken world. A broken world that lost a sweet soul June 29th, 2014.
A dear family friend of ours, Philip Lutzenkirchen, went to be with Jesus almost 2 weeks ago. If you are a college football fan, you may recognize his name for being the all star tight end at Auburn a few years ago and taking the team to victory at the National Championship. He's also infamous for the endzone dance coined as, "The Lutzie". Philip wasn't only a star on the field but he had a heart of gold. He knew Jesus, praise God for that! A man who loved The Lord strongly and professed His name wherever he could, and a man who loved his family wildly. He was the kind of man you want your son to grow up to be and your daughter to marry (in fact we hoped he and my little sister Tomi would one day get married ha!). His dad and my dad were best friends growing up and best friends to this day. The world is now a little darker without Philip but heaven is a helluva lot brighter.
The week of Philip's passing happened to be the week of my Restless book study that covered suffering. God was prepping my heart for intense feelings, mourning, and conversations I would be having over the next few days. To this day not an hour goes by that my heart doesn't break for his family (he has 3 sisters my age who loved him so, so much) and try to bargain with God to bring him back. The tough thing for us to understand is that Philip doesn't want to come back. If he had the chance, or a million chances, to return to earth.... he wouldn't. The book of Revelations tells us that heaven is a place where there is no longer darkness, no pain, no hunger. The Kingdom of heaven is perfect and no one inside would ever leave. People are taken from this earth too soon but they are the lucky ones! One of Jon's best friend's, John, passed away in a tragic hang gliding accident the summer after we met and I found so much peace in believing that John had completed the work God had for him on earth and it was time to come home. Some of our plans are longer than others. I don't think I could even understand the breadth of the impact Philip had on the many people who loved him. What I would do to leave the same impact Philip did in his 23 years on earth!!!
Losing Philip and watching friends, acquaintances, and bloggers lose their children, husbands and parents makes me long for heaven. I long to be in a place where my soul is full to the brim and I don't live in constant fear of failure, acceptance, and safety. I am not afraid of death because what's on the other side is more than I could ever dream up.
Jennie Allen did a fabulous job of talking about why God may let us suffer and I wanted to share with you a few points.
1. Jesus is best known through suffering- He went to the cross and endured suffering first and uses our suffering to speak life into us. This is tough because we want to turn away and condemn Him.
2. We get stronger- Just because a heart stops beating and blood stops flowing, doesn't mean this is the end. Earth is not our home and we must have faith to press on til we reach the other side.
3. We long for heaven- Like I said above, losing people close to me just solidifies my true belief in heaven and I praise God that He already has a room for me there. This world is going to knock us off our feet time and time again and continue to empty us dry. Heaven is real and it is coming.
4. Our lives could leave a mark- Yes! 'God wrote suffering into our stories and wants to redeem it for His glory'. Have you ever watched someone pass and not be impacted by their story? Each and every one of us has a purpose this side of Heaven.
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. -Genesis 50:20
I believe that Philip's life will bring so many people to Jesus, encourage people to mend broken relationships, and remind us that we have no say in when our time here is over. From the beginning of time The Lord knew every single hair on your head and every single breath you would take and there is no changing His will. In light of such a terrible tragedy that many will mourn forever, there is so much hope. Come Jesus.