Like most people, I didn’t know James Kim. And I’m not completely sure why this story resonates with so many people—including me. Maybe because we can see ourselves in it. A mother. A father. Maybe it reminds us how quickly our lives can change. Maybe it reminds us that what happened to James Kim and his family could happen to us.
But, at a deep level, James Kim’s death reminds me that this isn’t the way life is supposed to be. Death is wrong-ness. It is a mess-up, a not-meant-to-be.
As followers of Jesus, we get that this wrong-thing death doesn’t have the last word. We’re in the middle of a Story, one where God’s Kingdom has burst onto earth in Jesus, exploding Life outward, overcoming even death. We get that this life bursts through here-and-now. We get that “life will out.” And this life we taste, it brings a new, abundant, full-of-meaning-and-purpose, here-and-now-and-later, joy-and-peace, deep-and-wide, taste-of-what-life-was-meant-to-be-and-will-be kind of life. And we taste of the promise of death-overcome, the fullness of Kingdom life here-and-now that is yet-to-be.
Yet we live in the middle of the Story, in-between. Death, while overcome-now, is still a will-cease-to-be-then. Death, in its own throes of demise, still thrashes out. And James Kim’s death reminds me of this. And so, even as I breathe in Kingdom-life, I grieve for a man I never knew and for a family left behind that I will never meet.
The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.