Being a student of history, I’m profoundly struck by what I like to term, “shadow events”. Throughout history’s major events, there are often similar occurrences that are overshadowed by bigger headlines. On November 12, 2001, American Airlines Flight 587 crashes in the Queens Borough of New York City immediately after takeoff from LaGuardia International Airport. Onboard are 260 souls all of whom perish, making it the second worst aviation disaster in United States history. At any other time, this event would have tragically stood out in the annals of flight history but because it was 2 months and one day after the attacks on 9/11, few will remember this horrific crash.
Even fewer, especially from this generation, know that 1 month after the A-bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, heralding the end of World War II a Typhoon hit that same fated city, killing over 2000, flooding and destroying whatever was left from the bomb. Many of the residents who had survived the first atomic bomb used in war, did not survive the natural force of what the Japanese called “Makurarazki Typhoon”.
Such euphoria existed at the end of the War in the Pacific that you can hardly find any information in regards to the worst peace time aviation disaster in history. Just one week after the official surrender of the Japanese onboard the USS Missouri, another typhoon, this one called Ursula claimed the lives of 900 servicemen. All thirty aircraft carrying liberated POW’s from Okinawa to Manila in the Philippines go down into the Pacific due to the typhoon.
Sometimes we regard such fate as deemed, “They were doomed”. Indeed the irony of such timing can only make one ponder, that perhaps it was not meant for them to survive. Some might even say it was the hand of God and/or His judgement upon sinners.
Interestingly, there is scripture that gives us wisdom in understanding and dealing with such issues. Luke 13:1-5 There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. (2) And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? (3) No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. (4) Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? (5) No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
The same mystery of “Who lives?” and “Who dies?” that bewilders the generations of our time, did so during Jesus’ day as well. Wisdom from our Lord is twofold; what difference in when or how we die? We will all die. We should all repent.
I guess a better analysis of such tragic ironies of life is not to ask why did this happen or why did it happen in the particular manner, but to ask, did they repent? The first question shows a glimmer of doubt on our part and gives power to death. The second question shows faith on our part and gives power to the one who died to free us from the bondage of sin and death. We should not entertain the enigmatic events of life as a way for God to demonstrate His judgment upon man in unusual fashion. Better yet we should see these events as God’s way of waking us up, entreating us to pay attention and be watchful. Matt. 25:13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
Many people found the idea of flying after 9/11 repulsive. I can remember a few commenting that they’d never get on plane again. However, a few months pass and life goes on, people have to travel. Then, tragedy strikes and we ask, “Why?” Instead, we should be praying to God to save us from our sins. Tragic and unexplained things happen and they should remind us of how precious and fragile our lives are. A terrible war may come to an end, but that doesn’t mean that dying stops. Death may be amplified in wars and famines, but death is never static, it is always with us. We must face the inevitable, but to do so without repentance will bring us death twice. If you don’t like the thought of death, then repent and be baptized or you’re doomed to think about and be death for all eternity.