This week I learned from my daughter that David Molak died. I went online to read his obituary and noticed that it included a link to a video of his funeral at Christ Church, San Antonio, Texas where I was Rector (Senior Pastor) for 14 years. I clicked onto the link and was drawn into the sights and sounds of the beautiful service in the church where I officiated at so many funerals and weddings. The casket processed in and stopped at the Chancel steps. I went through my book of Baptismal photographs and located the photo of my holding him in my arms, aged three and a half months, on January 30, 2000. I had married his mother and father, Maurine and Matt at the same steps on April 15, 1989.
David has two older brothers, and they and their father all eloquently spoke of David and their loss. As you might expect at the death of a 16 year old Eagle Scout, who loved hunting, fishing, video games and professional football, the church was full to overflowing. I called Matt to see how he was doing, and told him how much we were thinking of him and sent him and Maurine our love. I called and left a message for Maurine’s parents who were also active in our congregation.
What would I have said to comfort those who mourn the loss of such a lovely boy? Words cannot convey the grief they must be going through. Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote:
“Nothing can make up for the absence of someone whom we love…It is nonsense to say that God fills the gap, He doesn’t fill it, but on the contrary, he keeps it empty and so helps us to keep alive our former communion with each other even at the cost of pain…. The dearer and richer our memories, the more difficult the separation. But gratitude changes the pangs of memory into a tranquil joy. The beauties of the past are borne, not as a thorn in the flesh, but as a precious gift in themselves.”
Gratitude for a life David lived to the full. Gratitude for the gift of his sixteen years of life and all the memories of it. Gratitude for what we were able to enjoy. Resolve to do all that we can to make his life count for others who may face the same challenges.
His sudden departure may seem incomprehensible to us, but we must believe that he is spared the ravages of old age. Isaiah writes, “The good men perish; the godly die before their time and no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to realize that God is taking them away from evil days ahead. For the godly who die shall rest in peace.” (57:1,2)
1 Corinthians13 reminds us that “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (NIV)
“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us.” (The Message)
He has gone before us. We shall soon follow. He will be there to greet us. Thanks be to God for the promise of the resurrection to eternal life in Jesus.