They say that famous people die in groups of three. This week has lent credence to this social phenomenon as former U.S. President Gerald Ford; R&B singer James Brown; and deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein have all died within days of each other.
Aside from the morbid curiosity factor of seeing familiar people die in quick succession, their passing also highlights a great truth. Everybody dies! An honorable President, a dynamic entertainer, and a murderous dictator, each met the same end. They all lived at the highest levels of power, fame, and wealth but nothing they did, good or bad, could prevent their sure demise.
No cleric or minister could preach a more powerful sermon on the fragility of life and the absolute certainty of death than the rapid procession of images on our TVs detailing the parting from this world of these familiar faces.
It is sad to note that most of the commentary concerning these men and their lives reported what they did while alive and how it would affect the rest of us who remain. However, few, if any, have mentioned the most obvious truth laid bare by the death of three great men in such a short time. If the great ones have no power over death, then the rest of us should pay close attention to the precariousness of our own small lives. This reality, confirmed by CNN, no less, should move us to better pursuits while we are here.
The fact that three famous people have died just as one year ends and another begins may also be God's way of reminding us of this important fact and a not so subtle encouragement to devote ourselves to a better life for whatever part of the new year we have the opportunity to see.