I responded in the same way to Kobe Bryant’s death as you did: shock and sadness. This was then compounded when I learned his 13 year old daughter, Gianna, was aboard the helicopter, along with six other parents and their children, and a pilot.
Upon hearing the whole story, my mind began to race with thoughts of being a parent on that helicopter with my child. What would I say to my child knowing the words would probably be my last?
Tragedies like these make us hold our children a little tighter, take our spouses hand, and make us realize the blessing of life. It is sad that it takes something like this to give us perspective.
Thankfully, it looks as if Kobe Bryant had perspective on what was most important. He was not without his flaws, but he died being a dad. He was on that helicopter because he was a dad. They were on their way to Gianna’s basketball game. Bryant had lost interest in basketball following his remarkable NBA career; his daughter revived that interest. He became invested in women’s basketball because he was a dad. He supported the WNBA by attending innumerable games and focused in on youth basketball for girls.
News reports say that Kobe Bryant was a faithful Roman Catholic who credits his faith with getting him through his 2015 sex scandal. At the least, his marriage and his family are a story of redemption.
Bryant was only 41 years old, his daughter, 13; all in the helicopter died too young. I regret that I cannot speak to the lives of any of the others, for their lives are worth remembering too.
So, in a very poignant way, these deaths point us to what is happening right now. We take for granted our relationships, we hold grudges, we care too much about things that don’t matter. This tragedy is a call for us to take inventory of who we are and what we are called to be.
The deaths also point us toward eternity. It is tragic and it is frightening to think about what happened. But even in the midst of this heinous event, there is Jesus. As Christians, we do not long for death, but our hearts do long to be with Jesus. One of the Puritans said that the best day of our lives is not when we come into this world, but when we exit it. He wasn’t celebrating death, but the reality that awaits us with the Lord Jesus. Death is not the final word for those who trust in him. And for those left behind, we know that it is not the final word in our relationship with the loved one who has died. We too will see them again as they wait on the far side of Jordan for our homecoming.
In a word, as we reflect on the death of the Bryants and the seven others in the helicopter, our perspective ought to be eternal. See what God is doing in your life right now, and celebrate it. Keep an eye toward heaven and know that we are saved by a God who will one day make all things new.