One morning last week I woke to the disturbing news that one of the legends of basketball had been killed in a helicopter accident. Kobe Bryant was a fantastic player that brought a high level of excitement whenever he took to the court for my beloved LA Lakers. As news of the tragedy unfolded, we were to learn that not only Kobe, but eight others, had become victims of this unfortunate occurrence and as I was processing my own reaction and connection to this event I observed a number of other opinions at play.

There were those who thought the greater tragedy was the fact that his thirteen year old daughter was on the flight with him and was also one of the victims. Speculation was even considered about his final thoughts should he know that he was about to die, but so was his little girl. There were other factions that highlighted his family of another three daughters plus much loved wife that were left behind and trying to make sense of his loss. Some focussed on the actions of the helicopter pilot and whether or not he should have been flying in the weather conditions of the day. Others drew attention to the fact that world of basketball had lost one of it’s true legends.

In all of this I kept returning to the fact that, a total of nine lives were lost on that fateful trip. There has been some mention of these other families and the connections to the celebrity they died with but I have been wondering about the weight we place on the life-cut-short of the individual we feel we know and, in some senses, own compared to the rest.

I recognise that the level of news coverage that filters through to us here on the underside of the world might not be to the same volume as those in his home country, but I find myself asking, “Why is it that the death of one person seems to be more important than any other?” This is a phenomenon that we see on a regular basis when someone famous has died, and it is hard to see past the unspoken belief that their loss of life is more significant. This disturbs me because it feels as if some people’s lives are worth more, and that it seems to be determined by how well known they are.

I would love nothing more than to be able to say a few sentences that brings clarity and reason to these types of situations that cause us pain, but I can not because there aren’t any. I would love to explain away the reason for a grief event that makes sense, but that belief is too simplistic in this complicated world.

We have an unrealistic view that we are entitled to a long and healthy life, but none of us are promised this. I don’t mean for this to sound depressing, but tomorrow is not guaranteed. What is guaranteed is that God will remain close to those who are grieving. He understands the loss and pain that we experience and is willing to hold us near as we grapple with what life now looks like. Jesus himself said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew chapter 5 verse 4

I have spent time this week praying for those directly affected by Kobe’s death, and all those who were travelling with him. I have also been praying for others who have received news this week that their loved ones life has been tragically cut short in other incidents.

I have asked God to help me be the source of comfort for any in my sphere of influence who may be mourning at this time. As he leads me to engage with these people I wonder who He might like you to engage with too. You don’t need to have any special words, just the capacity to listen and love.

Be blessed.

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