(Read Ron’s San Diego update below, then come back to this post)
I don’t follow horse racing but because I’m addicted to both trivia and rareness, I usually watch the 3 minutes of the Kentucky Derby each year, wondering if a horse might win the elusive “Triple Crown,” something that hasn’t happened since 1978 (back when I was in high school, Jimmy Carter was President, and the telegraph was invented). Today “Big Brown” won the derby (as predicted); finishing second was a fly filly named Eight Belles.
A few seconds after the race was over, Eight Belles collapsed on the track. Right at that moment, I had to answer the front door and left the TV. When I returned I learned that Eight Belles had broken both her front ankles and had to be euthanized right then and there on the track. I got a little teary for a horse I didn’t know and an industry I don’t care about, remarking out loud, “that’s the saddest thing I can think of…”
Why is that? Why should it even affect me? I’m thinking back to John 11 when Jesus learns that Lazarus has died and sees the torment of his sisters. The Bible says that Jesus was deeply moved and wept. Of course, Jesus knew he was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, so why did he cry?
It must be because death has a sting, even for God (1 Corinthians 15:55-56). Death is always tragic, always painful, even when we see resurrection on the other side. It’s painful to God, and when we’re in touch (even with horses we do not know), it’s painful to see. I suppose the innocence of animals is a large part of today’s pain as well.
On tomorrow’s Lord’s Day, as we commune together remembering Jesus’ death and sacrifice, may we be deeply moved at the tomb that is now empty. May we feel the sting of death enough to appreciate salvation from its jaws.