Have you had a friend die yet? I was only 26 years old when the first of my school friends passed away. And the circumstances made it even more tragic.
My friend was a special person. She had time for everyone, she was other-person-centred and she loved God with everything she had. She and her husband had headed out to India as missionaries a few years before, and soon I was happy to hear that she was pregnant. Our first babies were due just a few months apart.
Unfortunately, as her pregnancy progressed, she started to get terrible headaches. At eight months along, doctors discovered a brain tumour. They took out the baby – a little girl - by caesarean, and then operated on her brain.
Unfortunately my friend died. Personally, I was devastated. She had been loved by so many people, all around the world. Losing her brought us all terrible pain and grief.
St Augustine, one of the early church fathers, also lost a friend whom he loved very much. This is what he wrote about how he felt: “This is what comes of giving one’s heart to anything but God. All human beings pass away. Do not let your happiness depend on something you may lose. If love is to be a blessing, not a misery, it must be for the only Beloved who will never pass away.”
In other words, Augustine said that you shouldn’t waste your emotions on people. Instead, you should give all your love to God, because that’s the only way you won’t be hurt. Loving people will only ultimately bring you misery!
It’s an interesting thought. If I had read his words around the time that my friend died, I might have been persuaded to believe him. I might have said that relationships with people were just too hard and brought too much pain.
Was Augustine right? Should we really just give up on people and focus only on God? What do you think?
Leave your thoughts below & keep a watch for my next post when I look at what the Bible has to say on the subject.