Disaster and tragedy in our world are common. Sometimes it seems that, "like bananas, they come in bunches!" Floods, earthquakes and storms affect populations over a wide area. Accidents great and small bring sorrow and heartache to people everywhere. But valuable lessons can come even from tragedy.
There are many dangerous jobs. One which has its share of disaster is mining. An explosion in the Stag Canon mine No. 2 in Dawson, New Mexico, took the lives of 263 people in 1913. In West Frankfort, Illinois, the Orient No. 2 mine had a similar accident in 1951, with 119 people killed.
More recently, on Jan. 3, 2006, a mining accident in Tallmansville, West Virginia, took the lives of 12 miners. As often happens, some of the trapped men composed brief messages to their family and friends. Convinced he faced death, one wrote that he would see them "on the other side." His family no doubt was comforted by knowing he died with such faith and peace of mind.
Scripture gives God's people good reason to hope we'll see our loved ones in the next life. David, king of Israel, said at the death of his infant son, "I shall go to him, but he will not return to me" (2 Samuel 12:23). While the child was ill, David prayed and fasted, even laying on the ground all night in the boy's room. But when he learned of his death, he stopped mourning, explaining to his questioning servants that he expected to be with the boy after his own death.
One of the last things Jesus did before his death was to promise his disciples that he would prepare a place for them so they could be where he was going - that is, in heaven. He didn't want them to be "troubled" by his leaving. Rather, he wanted them to look forward to the heavenly dwelling he was planning for them.
We need to recognize that, as with the apostles, our hope in heaven is based on our faith in Jesus, the son of God. Peter assures us that "salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
Jesus told a tragic story about a rich man who died and found himself in hell's torment on "the other side" (Luke 16:19-31). He begged Abraham to send a message to his five brothers still on this side, warning them to avoid that place of eternal punishment. Abraham told him that they had been warned through Moses and the Old Testament prophets and should listen to them. Biblical warnings are preserved for those who will listen.
Friend, if you should die today, are you ready for "the other side"?