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In my hometown of Penn Hills we had another devastating tragedy recently.  I say another because we’ve been through a lot in the past few years.  Yes, there were some before my son Trey died…I suppose I wasn’t as tuned in.  Officer Crawshaw’s tragic death comes to mind.  I had a former volleyball player named Stephon Godbolt die in his sleep the summer before Trey died.  There was an accidental shooting and another that was not so accidental.  Trey died that November.  Nate Ferraco was a volleyball player, soccer star and all around all american super kid.  I used to say that he was everything Trey was never able to become.  He passed away early in 2015.  This year alone we have had two high school students die.  One in a car crash and another due to senseless violence…that one just last week.

That is more than enough for one community.  One is more than enough.  To a degree, my community is not all that different from others.  There is tragedy and heartache everywhere.  Looking at it more closely than a community, as individuals we all face loss and horrific times many times throughout our lives.  Not to be morose but one could argue that life is filled with a series of devastating setbacks and emotionally crushing events.  For sure, that isn’t ALL that life is…but it’s a huge part of it.

When Trey was sick and eventually died, I learned that I was now able to come along side others and comfort them…to be sad with them.  I knew what horrific pain felt like and it helped me just be sad with people…not try to fix them, give them perspective, or even understand their pain.  My purpose was to not let people be alone in their pain.  It still is.  Beyond that I’ve committed much of my life and teaching of others to sharing that essential need.  People need comfort.  They need to not be alone.

Recently, I have come up with the most simple of statements.  I have begun saying it more and more as of late but the other day it blew someone away.  We were at the prayer vigil last Wednesday night.  I saw a good friend of mine that is very involved in our community and has been a leader in the district, faith community, and more.  I told him what God has put on my heart and it blew him away.  He perked up and said (quite loudly), “THAT’S IT!!!  That’s really it!”  I was taken aback by his appreciation of my assessment.  It fortified what I was feeling.

Here it is.  All we are to do in life is survive the day, and love someone else who is struggling to survive theirs.  Yes, there are some days when all you can do is make sure that you breathe and make it to bedtime.  Yes, their are days when that seems quite the lofty goal.  Most days are not that way.  Most days you can do some other things.  However, helping…loving someone who is struggling better be one of those other things you do.

Everything else…EVERYTHING else…is just noise.  Politics, sports, accomplishments, setbacks, philosophical theories, theological standpoints, lifestyle, bitterness, addictions, grudges, policies, programs…if they are not based in love they are just noise.

If you want me to get all scriptural I would point to the full armor of God found in Eph 6: 10-18.  It describes all that we need to do to be spiritually equipped to…conquer?  Demolish?  Advance?  No.  The goal of the “putting on” the full armor of God is to…stand.  Survive the day is the lofty goal we have been given.  1Cor 13 is known as the “love chapter” in the bible.  It says that without love…it’s all noise…it (whatever it is) is meaningless.  2Cor 1:4 says that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received.  Survive, love, comfort.

My heart breaks…and continues to break for the those crushed by the tragic losses we have faced.  I want to hold them so that they can survive the day.  I have been held up by others who helped me survive many a day. I thank you all who have helped us.  Let us all go and love others.

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