Living a Vapor: How Tragedy Has Affected My View of Life
In an instant.
On a day that should have been just like any other school day, fourteen innocent children and three heroic teachers lost their lives to a madman with a gun.
This catastrophe has created division and disgust in our nation. Sadly, the Stoneman Douglas shooting has been turned into a political example for Democrats and Republicans to use to further their agendas. But I don’t want to do that here.
I don’t want these words to be ones of debate and discussion. I want us as a student body to think about this tragedy and reflect on how it affects all of us.
I cannot put into words the devastation this calamity has caused. I don’t know what the parents, teachers, and survivors are going through right now. But I do know that this horrible incident has reminded me of some important principles of life and can remind us of some things we need to think about.
Life is fragile.
“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” –James 4:14
It’s not very often I think about how long I have left here on earth. I usually don’t wake up in the morning with the thought that this could be my last day. My mindset is quite the opposite.
Too often I take my life for granted.
Too often I feel invincible.
But life is vulnerable.
One moment I could be going through a normal day, and the next, I could be gone.
It only takes one bullet. One accident. One disease. One moment.
Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.
Life is too fragile to take it for granted.
We can’t afford to live our lives assuming we will see the next morning. The fragility of our finite existence is real. Let’s not ignore it. Let’s not bet on our lives.
Life is a gift from God.
“This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” —Psalm 118:24
All of the time I get to spend on earth is nothing but a gift from the Father.
I am not entitled to the life I am living.
Every breath I take is one more breath I don’t deserve on this earth. Every laugh is one more blessing that God has granted me.
Why He gives some people more time here than others, I will never know. But I can always rest in the truth that He is sovereign and His plan is better than what our finite minds can imagine.
We can rest knowing God has a purpose for our lives. And may we be thankful, knowing every second of it is undeserved.
This life is not everything.
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” —John 14:3
It is so easy to get caught up in my present life without thinking of my life to come, especially as a college student with so much going on and so much more to look forward to. But if this life is so fragile, why am I so absorbed in it?
If I realize that the reason I am living this life is so God can be glorified then I will constantly have my attention toward the next life, where I will glorify God forever. This life cannot compare to the eternity I will spend with my Father.
Since there is so much more than this life, my hope for heaven can guide my plans here on earth.
C.S. Lewis says it better than I ever could:
"If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next.”
We can’t ignore death. We can’t pretend tragedy doesn’t happen. As young people, the fact that fourteen teenagers just lost their lives in an instant severely affects us.
The Stoneman Douglas shooting should get us thinking about things we all too often try to avoid.
This life is short and fragile, but it is also valuable. So how will we as students and servants of God use our lives to bring praise to our Savior?
We don’t know how long we will have here. But we can use our time to do incredible things for God. During our stay here on earth, let’s never forget what a great gift this fragile life is. And let’s live to the best of our abilities to glorify our Father.32