Again the Grim Reaper has struck among us scything his death and destruction with unaccustomed viciousness. A family has suddenly lost another son, the Church on earth has lost another stalwart member. We cannot help but cry out why? Why another young man, the third in recent months, the sixth in just over two years? With such a senseless death?
Again the Grim Reaper has struck and we are smaller for it. We are one less, we are enmeshed in grief, our hearts are lacerated with pain, for though it is one family’s loss, it is very really a loss for us all, for we are all knit as one. The Grim Reaper has struck and we are bereft.
We are bereft, we grieve, but how we grieve and why we grieve is why we are knit as one. We have been touched, we have been hurt, but not senselessly. No nebulous Grim Reaper has mindlessly injured us. We have been touched by the hand of God, and He has not taken part of us; He has transferred part of us to glory. Part of the body of the Church is not earth-bound but heaven-freed. The Church is greater on earth because these young men were here. Though they have gone ahead to glory they have left great gifts behind, gifts which years and awareness can but heighten.
In grief the Church cannot help but think of Job. Job grieved with an unfathomable anguish. His pain was greater than mind or heart could bear. Job suffered immeasurably. He suffered —yet he survived. We too, suffer, yet we shall survive, for we suffer with courage.
As Job suffered with a courage born of knowledgeable faith, so must we. We know our loss was God’s will, in His eternal plan for His Church. We know that we were touched for a worthy purpose, for God’s glory, for our enrichment. God did not senselessly take unto himself lives that were at their peak, but lives whose purpose on earth was completed, whose battle was fought. God took unto Himself young men whose time was time no longer, but eternity. Our loss was God’s will; therefore, we face it with courage.
We face our loss, too, with something more than courage: Thankfulness. In death we must be thankful for life. Our Christ, their Christ, died on the cruel tree of the cross, went through and conquered hell so we might have life. In Christ’s death, we have life eternal, and the knowledge of this for those who have gone before must make us thankful. So we face our loss with thankfulness and courage born of faith. We weep, not as those who have no hope, but as earth-bound saints longing for the joys of those who have already the blessings of eternity.
Again, God has taken from us young men in what we thought was the fullness of life. We are hurt, we are bereft. God has taken young men from us when their lives were complete, and they have left us much. Through these young men we have glimpsed glory, and along with the joyous years of their presence among us, they have left us lessons in courage, lessons in thankfulness.
George Kamps: June 14. 1950—Nov. 8, 1972
William Kamps, Jr.: April 24, 1954—January 13, 1973
“Jehovah gave, and Jehovah hath taken away; Blessed be the name of Jehovah” Job 1:21b