“All the World’s a Stage, - And all the men and women merely players. - They have their exits and their entrances.”
- As You Like It by William Shakespeare
“All the World’s a Stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances.” - As You Like It by William Shakespeare
On October 14th, one of our families lost their eighteen-month-old son. He made his exit from the earth and left the Players of the Stage community grieving and questioning.
One of the qualities that I love about Players of the Stage is the sense of kinship among the actors, staff, parents, and volunteers: we become a family. As we work together, we grow to love and care for each other, and a deep bond is formed. When I heard of this boy’s death, I was heartbroken for his family, especially his older brothers. They are students of mine, so they are my kids. One of our directors commented that he had recently been thinking about the next generation of POTS students, and he had included this dear little boy in that number, but now he will never be a student at Players of the Stage.
Processing this little one's death is going to be difficult for his family and for those involved in Players of the Stage. The question “Why?” screams in our mind when we experience tragedy, and that question is usually met with silence. Even for those of us who believe that there is a loving God in control, the question of why this tragedy happened haunts us.
Pastor John Hutteman addressed this question at the memorial service on October 18th by asking several other questions: Is God really there? Is God with us? Is He good? Does He care? Is God fair (or just)? Is He in control?
Pastor Hutteman answered these questions from Scripture, reminding us of the truths about God. Yes, He is real. Yes, He promises to be with us to the end of the age. Yes, He sent His Son to die for us to show us His goodness and His love. Yes, He is just, sacrificing His Son so that He could be merciful and still punish sin. Yes, He is the Creator of the world, and He is in control.
So then... Why?
He didn't have an answer to that question. Yet he did remind us again how God doesn't take us through what He hasn't experienced Himself. God also lost His Son to death. Knowing that Jesus died and rose again, allowed the boy’s family to proclaim their faith that God would bring good out of this sorrow, and that God would glorify Himself through their toddler's death.
It was a powerful service. Grief mixed with joy. Heartache mixed with praise. Unanswered questions mixed with faith. The service challenged my faith and forced me to talk to God about questions, doubts, and sins I had been ignoring. In midst of all the sorrow and the tragedy, I can honestly say that I am grateful for that service. I wish the circumstance that made the service necessary had been different, but I am grateful for how God used it to speak with me.
William Shakespeare was right. All the world is a stage, and we are all merely players, and we have our entrances and exits. On October 14th that little boy made his exit from the stage, and from our perspective it seems far to soon a departure; however Shakespeare doesn't mention that there is a playwright and a director of the play of life. At Players of the Stage, we believe that God is the Master Playwright, the Master Director. While that doesn't diminish the pain of what has happened, it gives us hope that the lives and deaths of believers, whether they exit at ninety years or eighteen months, are not meaningless. It gives us hope that the baby is with God, resting in the arms of best Director there is: Jesus Christ our Lord.
I don't know the full impact that this death will have on our group, but I do know that God will be walking right alongside us as we support the family and go through our own grief and questions. Lord we believe, help our unbelief. Fulfill Your promise to bring good out of this tragedy. Amen.