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You and I were put here on earth to learn, share, love, appreciate and give of ourselves. None of us knows when this fantastic experience will end.

In a few hours I’ll be helping a family cope with the nearing death of a husband and dad. I’ve been with families like this hundreds of times in my pastoral career. It’s never easy. However, every time I have to deal with death I gain a greater appreciation for God’s gift of life.

Annie’s Box

I’ve been reading a book called “Annie’s Box.” It’s the account of Charles Darwin and Annie, his eldest daughter, the apple of his eye. Her death at age ten from tuberculosis was a terrible blow for her parents.  Charles wrote in a personal memoir, “We have lost the joy of the household.”

Annie’s Box is the writing box in which Emma Darwin stowed a few childish relics of her daughter and kept for the rest of her life. Randall Keynes, Emma’s great-great-grandson, unearthed the box by chance. He tells the story of how Emma was a devout believer in Jesus all her life, while Charles was sceptical about salvation. Annie’s death seems to have reinforced Darwin’s doubts about religious consolation.


As the author of a theory that relieved God of any responsibility for creating new species, Darwin found it hard to believe that he intervened in human life. And as a grieving parent, he found it impossible to see Annie’s death as part of any divine plan. It might have an explanation, even a cause, but no reason. Annie’s death led Darwin to the conclusion that pain, and suffering are far easier to handle if left to a natural sequence of events than to the direct intervention of God and a divine purpose.

Where is there purpose in death? Where is the comfort in the senseless death of an innocent or a loved one?

In death and grief, we need consolation not explanation.

Sometimes consolation in death comes through a new appreciation for life. The following story of a bereaved high school teacher says it all.

A Teacher’s Insight

“I had a teacher in high school many years ago whose husband unexpectedly died suddenly of a heart attack. When she returned to the classroom after his death, she shared some of her thoughts with us. As the late afternoon sunlight came streaming in through the classroom windows and the class was nearly over, she moved a few things aside on the edge of her desk and sat down there. With a gentle look of reflection on her face, she paused and said, “Before class is over, I would like to share with all of you a thought that is unrelated to class, but which I feel is very important.

“Each of us is put here on earth to learn, share, love, appreciate and give of ourselves. None of us knows when this fantastic experience will end. It can be taken away at any moment. Perhaps this is God’s way of telling us that we must make the most out of every single day.”

God’s Way

“Her eyes beginning to water, she went on, “So I would like you all to make me a promise. From now on, on your way to school, or on your way home, find something beautiful to notice. It doesn’t have to be something you see; it could be a scent, perhaps of freshly baked bread wafting out of someone’s house, or it could be the sound of the breeze slightly rustling the leaves in the trees, or the way the morning light catches one autumn leaf as it falls gently to the ground.

“Please, look for these things, and cherish them. For, although it may sound trite to some, these things are the ‘stuff’ of life. The little things we are put here on earth to enjoy. The things we often take for granted. We must make it important to notice them, for at any time… it can all be taken away.”

Begin with the end in mind is one of Stephen Covey’s seven habits of highly successful people. Thinking about the end can be a good way to start a new beginning and make the most of today.

Join the conversation below and leave a comment. Thank you.

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Bob Jones

Happily married to Jocelyn for 44 years. We have two adult sons, Cory and his wife Lynsey and their son Vincent and daughter Jayda; Jean Marc and his wife Angie and their three daughters, Quinn, Lena and Annora. I love inspiring people through communicating, blogging, and coaching. I enjoy writing, running, and reading. I'm a fan of the Double E, Bruins, Celtics, Red Sox and Pats. Follow me on Twitter @bobjones49ers


  • Julie MacKenzie says:

    Thank you for sharing that story with us this morning Pastor Bob. ❤️ I am reminded every day that, “tomorrow is not promised to everyone”…no matter how young or old you are. I count my blessings every day. I am glad to wake up to see the sun rise. Just remembering the “little things”. Have a great weekend. ❤️

  • Wayne Loe says:

    Life’s end… Very good!!
    As we leave for the Island tomorrow, Laurie and I will take all the moments along the way!

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