EgyptAir Flight MS804 is the latest aircraft to “disappear” having been lost from radar at 01:30 BST on Thursday 19th May 2016.
66 Lives Tragically Lost
There were 66 people on board whose lives have almost certainly been cut short. That translates into as many families and friends whose lives will be torn apart by the loss of loved ones and particularly at the present time not knowing what has happened – not knowing how or why their loved ones should die so suddenly.
For those not directly involved, these are appalling statistics, but for family members – every individual one of them – this is a gut wrenching event that will literally turn their lives upside down. More immediately they have to face emotional upheavals that are much worse than physical pain and suffering. Our hearts can only go out to them, though such expressions of empathy can do little to alleviate what they are going through.
We Are Living in a Dangerous World
The sad fact is that the loss of this aircraft is yet another illustration of just how dangerous and uncertain this world has become. The reality is that anyone can be faced with catastrophic loss at any time. There are no safe places in the world any more – nowhere to hide. It doesn’t matter whether or not you are in a war zone or involved in some risky occupation, wherever you may be and whatever you may be doing, your life can be cut short or turned upside down at any moment, without warning. Everyone is a target – nobody is really safe.
Hoping for the Best
How do we cope in such a situation? One option is to simply close our minds to the threat and hope it never happens to us or those close to us. That is certainly a viable option. After all there are now more than seven billion people in this world so perhaps the statistical odds of survival are quite good. Of course, statistics are of no comfort to those who are suffering loss in this latest tragedy or in any of the other recent tragedies.
Others may vent their emotions and fears by blaming God for all that goes wrong in the world. After all, if God is all powerful as Christians claim, then surely He is able to prevent these tragedies from happening. Such an attitude, however, is something of a cop out. After all, most of what is wrong in this world is the result of men’s behaviour, either what they are doing or what they are choosing to ignore. Couple that with the fact that most of us ignore God. We don’t want Him interfering in our lives, only to restrain the activities of other people with whom we happen to disagree. We really can’t make a real mess of the world and then complain because someone else who we want nothing to do with, doesn’t sort it all out for us.
What the Bible Says
The bible has quite a lot to say about the possibility of sudden, unexpected death.
For example, our attitude to the unpredictability of life will strongly affect our attitudes and philosophy about how we live our lives. Jesus told a story about a farmer whose harvest was so bountiful he didn’t know what to do with it all. After some thought he decided to tear down his small barns and build bigger with the intention of taking it easy for the rest of his life, eating, drinking and making merry. Jesus pointed out the fallacy of the man’s attitude in that he would die that very night and then he would lose all his goods that he had saved for himself. (Luke 12:16-21).
On another occasion, Jesus employed a couple of topical incidents to teach his disciples. In the first incident, the local Roman governor had slaughtered some Jewish people as they were making sacrifices to God. They lost their lives through no fault of their own but because of the malevolent attitude of someone in authority. We see this kind of thing repeated so often today in different parts of the world.
In the second incident, some other people had lost their lives in a building collapse, presumably because someone had taken shortcuts or used poor construction materials. Again, this is still too prevalent in our day. (Luke 13:1-5)
The point Jesus made was to correct the false attitude of many, and we still sometimes hear today, that these people must have deserved what happened to them. Jesus was teaching them that tragedy can strike anyone good or bad without warning. Nobody is immune and victims are not to blame.
How Do We Respond?
Of course, none of this offers consolation for those who were on flight MS804, but it is pertinent for the rest of us. Do we want to live our lives for ourselves, without reference to God or do we choose to make our lives count for something positive for as long as we still live in this world?.