Prayers and Condolences

this is not the first time i’ve ever written about this issue.  but it needs to be stated again.

i’m not sure why this affected me the way it did this evening.  maybe because it seems like a lot of people near me are getting their fair share of tragedy these days.  or maybe because i’ve been preparing for my christmas season sermons on dealing with pain and suffering.

or maybe just because i’ve been thinking a lot about my life as a dad when my boys were younger…something i’ve been doing quite a bit the past couple of months.

no matter the reason, here’s what grabbed my heart this evening:

i turned on the tnt basketball pre-game show and it was obvious there was something wrong.  the announcers were not speaking with their usual joviality.  yup.  something was seriously wrong.  each of the four announcers were taking their turn offering their sympathy to kevin mchale, the head coach of the houston rockets.

his 23 year-old daughter, sasha, died saturday of complications from lupus, a chronic and sometimes-deadly auto immune disease.

it was obvious the four announcers knew kevin personally…as a player, a coach, and a friend.  they each spoke of their love for him and the deep sadness they were feeling because of his loss.  each one spoke “directly” to mchale and promised that their deepest thoughts and prayers would be with him.

after charles barkley, kenny smith and shag had shared their sincere condolences (“our thoughts and prayers go out to you…”), ernie johnson, the white guy who’s the studio host of the program, said some words on live television that shocked me.

“kevin, i am praying that you and your family will experience the peace that passes understanding.”  what?

i know that ernie johnson is a believer.  he’s active with the fellowship of christian athletes and the missionary organization, athletes in action.  but his words to kevin mchale were not the words of a high-profile celebrity christian.  they were the words of a brother.

i am so grateful to know that i have real words of comfort during times of unspeakable tragedy and sadness.  i’m so glad that i have more to say than “i’ll be thinking of you”, or “sending good thoughts your way” or “passing some positivity in your direction”, when what people need is truth and real hope to hold on to.

in a world full of suffering and fears that come with sickness and deep disappointment, my heart truly breaks for people who don’t believe in the reality of a living, personal, interactive and compassionate creator-god.

do you have words of life to pass on to others?  i’m sure you will have plenty of opportunities to share them in the future.

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