The merry month of May is here again. It is, however, not so merry for many people.

The coronavirus has now killed more than 70,000 people in the United States and health experts believe that number will climb to more than 100,000. Fear of death by this dread disease remains rampant among us.

While this number is alarming, we should remember that about 8,000 people die every day in the U.S. from all causes. Heart disease and cancer are the leading causes of death.

Accidents kill thousands every year.

But death is more than a statistic. It is a personal matter to each of us.

Most of us know someone who has died of an accident, an overdose, suicide or manslaughter. The death of a friend or a family member usually shocks us. We don’t understand why people die before they are old; it does not seem right for a child to be taken. And death shocks us because it reminds us that we too will die sometime.

In recent days, death has disturbed me greatly. My friend Gloria’s husband died of heart disease. Another friend’s 12-year-old grandson was killed accidentally while on a turkey hunt. Then my dear friend Will died in his sleep at age 60.

I was in tears when his son called with the news of his dad’s passing. Like his wife, Gayle, my dear cousin, our family loved Will and were not ready for him to leave us. Yes, death is a personal matter.

May brings us to the celebration of Mother’s Day. And this year I am thinking about a young mother who lost her only child shortly after Mother’s Day many years ago. She and her husband, both only 24 years old, struggled to understand why God would allow a wonderful little boy to die when he was only 3 years old.

The mother wrestled with the basic questions begging to be answered when a child dies with an incurable disease: “Where are you God?” “Why did you let my little boy die?” “What is the meaning of life?” “How can I live without this precious child who has been my life?” “Who will help me with this emptiness in my life?”

She expressed her despair and her search for hope in this little poem titled “In Time of Sorrow”:

O God, where are you?

My world suddenly has lost all meaning.

As I stood there beside the grave,

I couldn’t help asking,

Lord, what is the meaning of life?

How can I live in a world without this one

Who has been my very life?

I know so little about you, God,

But I dare to make one earnest plea —

That this dear one has not died in vain.

Help me in my sorrow to discover

The real meaning of life.

Lord, I feel so empty.

Yet I sense somehow that

You can become my fullness.

Fill me, while I cling to my faith

In Jesus your Son,

In whose name I pray. Amen.

The mother who wrote that did what the Psalmist had done — she cried out to God for help.

David had said, in Psalm 61, “I will cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed.” God helped David, and he helped that mother.

She took her broken heart to Jesus who gave her healing and hope. She did not find answers to all her questions, but she found God. And God helped her grow in faith until she could pen these lines:

If in this world of darkness

I can light a fire,

If I can cause one child to smile,

That is my desire.

To forget whatever may be my pain,

To brighten small, sad eyes

Is my fondest aim.

So this Mother’s Day I salute the mother who moved from overwhelming sorrow to enjoy several years of dressing like a clown whose antics and funny face made many children happy.

For 68 years, I have watched as Christ brightened her own sad eyes and gave her the strength to put her pain aside and spend her days serving others. In so doing, she found the victory over death that Christ gives to those who love and serve him.

Thanks be to God that victory is available to all who struggle with death and sorrow!

When death invades our ranks, the wisest step we can take is to turn our grief over to the one who says to all who are brokenhearted, “Let not your heart be troubled….” He alone can rescue us from sadness and fill us with the joy of his peace.

Walter Albritton is a Methodist minister and writes a weekly column for the Opelika-Auburn News. Contact him at walteralbritton7@gmail.com.

Walter Albritton is a Methodist minister and writes a weekly column for the Opelika-Auburn News. Contact him at walteralbritton7@gmail.com.

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