She was beautiful, intelligent, successful, witty, and cunning but at 29 years old, she committed suicide. How could someone who had so much going for herself, who seemed to love and live life to the fullest, who had such a strong faith in God, and who gave so completely to her friends and work commit the ultimate act in selfishness? No one would ever describe her as selfish; even those who did not like her respected her ability to give selfishly to others. Yet she chose the defining moment in her life to be a selfish act and knowingly wrote about it in her last letter. Worse yet, her death also meant an immediate death for her unborn child turning her suicide into a homicide. For those whom she left behind it imprinted a scar so deep that despite all efforts to conceal it, it remains a permanent reminder of the fragility of life.
There are some moments in your life that you can recall every last detail as if it were yesterday and for her friends and family, each one can tell you about the moment they discovered she was gone. They can speak of the immediate shock of disbelief, the intense spike of anger, the deep massive whole of sadness, and the crushing blow of defeat. Questions like, “Why didn’t I take that last call from her” or “How could someone who believes in God do this” or just plain “Why” spiral around with the strength of a tornado wiping out all ability to make sense out of the tragedy. And yet those tumultuous moments which destroy everything in their wake also serve to highlight the most important things of life.
Psalm 90 is a prayer of Moses which begins with praise, exalts God’s sovereignty, acknowledges the frailty of man, implores us to confession, and concludes with petitions for living. The Psalm summarizes the purpose of life by asking for success in reflecting God’s glory to the next generation. Verse 12 pleads, “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom”. There is no greater lesson in the brevity or briefness of life than to see it cut short long before its expected time. For those surviving after such a tragedy, it is an imprint on their life which is never forgotten.
And it should not be forgotten. Too often the desire to run from remembering the tragedy because of the massive emotional toll even years later outweighs the importance of remembering the wisdom gained from such an experience. Moses begged the Israelites to remember how God delivered them from slavery, how He provided for their every need, and how He protected them from harm. But it was easier for them, like us, to forget His former mercies in light of new pressing difficulties. Remembering those who have passed before us is not about wallowing in sorrow rather it is about remembering the value of every life no matter how short or tragic the ending. This wisdom is wasted on the old as they are all too well aware of the briefness of life but it is of great value to the young. So share your wisdom, it just might extend a life a bit longer.