Something is not right with the world

All you need to do in order to believe this is to go to a funeral for a 14 month old. Little Noah McKenney passed away on Monday, after having been born with spina bifida, and then battling brain cancer the last two months of his life.

His parents, Todd and Bethany, are old friends of mine from the singles ministry (dating back 15 years ago) at The Chapel. I remember Bethany as this hippy-ish girl with this beautiful long mane of red hair—always smiling and playing her guitar at area coffee shops. Todd was a prim and proper lawyer. We always found it interestingly odd that those two paired up! Todd is now Pastor of Community at The Chapel, and we have kept in contact here and there over the years—most recently bumping into each other at the CCO’s Jubilee Conference this year.

As the mourners filed through the sanctuary of the church, different videos were being shown on the two large screens above the pulpit: shots of Bethany with her newborn baby, another scene with Noah’s older sister, Selah, singing to him as he laid in his rocker, and videos of Noah’s first birthday party. In front of the pews sat Bethany, very distraught. Todd stood next to her, shaking hands and hugging loved ones as they filed in…a pained smile on his face as he’d greet friends and family. He held a soggy Kleenex in his left hand.

I hugged Todd and held Bethany’s hand, and then I passed the open coffin. I could only just glance at the little boy lying there—“Oh, Lord!” I thought, “He has red hair!”

Images of my own red-headed son, Trey, flashed into my head.

How could I ever handle losing him? Or Joel or Kaira?

How does a parent cope?

I sat in a pew and cried.

Some would say, in some desperate attempt to find comfort at a time like this, that God must have wanted this to happen—that it must have been God’s will for Noah to have died at 14 months.

I disagree.

This is wrong. Period. Something is not right with the world.

This is the carnage left by the Fall. This is why Jesus introduced the Kingdom of God—to overthrow the power of death through the power of His resurrection.

Paul knew the pain of watching loved ones suffer because of death. When he wrote to the Corinthians, he was not teaching pie-in-the-sky feel-goodisms or ivory-tower theology. He was telling us the wonders of the resurrection that we need to know when we come face-to-face with the sting of death.

What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These perishable bodies of ours are not able to live forever. But let me tell you a wonderful secret God has revealed to us. Not all of us will die, but we will all be transformed. It will happen in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, the Christians who have died will be raised with transformed bodies. And then we who are living will be transformed so that we will never die. For our perishable earthly bodies must be transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die.
When this happens—when our perishable earthly bodies have been transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die—then at last the Scriptures will come true:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. How we thank God, who gives us victory over sin and death through Jesus Christ our Lord!

(1 Corinthians 15:51-57)


sabbath day's journey said...

Thanks for this post, Bob. Noah will be deeply missed, and I'm thankful for the blessing he was to others in his short life.


Bob said...

Awful. Awful. Awful. Terrible. Terrible. Awful.

Thanks for communicating the reality of it.

Jeff Kuhn said...

Hey Bob,

Thanks for your post. As a pastor I have been there and know what it feels like to ask the questions you were asking at that funeral. The Kingdom of God is our only hope.

Bob Robinson said...

Thanks to Michele (who knows the McKenneys, and feels this deeply too), and to Bob (You are a favorite commenter here, man!), and to Jeff (welcome!) for your words.