What we thought about...



9th September, 2006

Seeing God articles
Faith & Reason articles
Bible Teachings articles

The crocodile hunter: killed by a stingray

Life can be cruel. I once heard of a man who escaped to freedom across the Berlin Wall. He was shot at but got out unscathed. Just a few months later, living as a free man in Brisbane, Australia, he dived into a local swimming pool, hit his head on the bottom, and was made a quadriplegic. Yesterday, world famous nature conservationist Steve Irwin, known to millions as “the crocodile hunter”, was fatally wounded when hit in the chest by a stingray's barb while filming for a wildlife project he was working on with his eight-year-old daughter, Bindi. Discovery Networks International President, Dawn McCall said when she heard of his death, “Rarely has the world embraced an animal enthusiast and conservationist as they did Steve Irwin”.

His death by stingray at the age of 44 is only the seventeenth ever recorded in the world. Without wishing to sound trite, one can only say, “What rotten luck”. And, of course, what a savage blow to his wife Terri and their two small children. Men and women of good will cannot help but feel deeply, terribly sad for them, just as they will for the hundreds or thousands of other people who suffer tragedy daily but whose loss doesn't get reported in the news.

When death sneaks up on a young person from behind, striking their loved ones so cruelly, the rational side of our minds cannot help but ask “Why, Lord?” We would hardly be human if we didn't. Not a living soul can answer that question in any given instance. Believers seem no more immune to premature death than unbelievers. But they have the compensation of knowing that God's chief gift to believers is hope of eternal life; this life is not an end in itself but merely God's means to achieving that end for all mankind.

We have to be willing to put aside our “rational view” of the world and let faith kick in. (I'm not suggesting that faith runs counter to reason, only that sometimes reason alone does not suffice to deal with life's problems.) God, who made us, had the right to set up the human condition any way

He wanted. Life's experiences and the Word of God both prove that all, great and small, have no guarantee they will still be here tomorrow:

There are three things that are never satisfied, four never say, "Enough!": the grave, the barren womb, the earth that is not satisfied with water — and the fire never says, "Enough!" (Prov. 30:15-16).

We might not like the sentiment in those words — the grave is never satisfied! — but that's the way our Maker has configured the human experience. Further, Scripture adds,

I returned and saw under the sun that — the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all (Eccl. 9:11).

The length of our lives can also be influenced by time and chance — surely few will suggest God provoked the stingray to snuff out Steve Irwin's life. So how should we respond? Well, first, we should bow before the love and wisdom of God who made life this way for a reason. We should thank Him for making life so tenuous! I mean it. Its very frailty gives those willing to accept this reality impetus to seek life's purpose, to grope after God, and possibly to find the gate leading to eternal life. Moses put it this way:

So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom (Ps. 90:12).

Our teflon grip on life inspires the wise to orient their lives in accordance with God's purpose for man. What folly to put a high premium on this life's vanities.

Second, we should thank God for giving us our friends and loved ones and not just feel jaded towards Him when we lose one. Reason tells us that we spend much more of our time enjoying loved ones and friends than we do lacerated by their loss. What folly to take them for granted while they live and then to get mad at God when they die. Steve Irwin's family will gradually recover and their hearts will knit afresh with new folk. Job had it right:

The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord (1:21).

May we bow before the goodness of God, enjoy what He gives us, resign ourselves to loss, and look forward to everlasting, tearless joy in the kingdom of God.

For more information, see Steve Irwin's death


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