"What's the worst that could happen?"
When's the last time you asked this?
For me, this is how I wrestle with a decision of whether to do something risky, or a challenge to convince someone else that a risk is worth taking.
But after reading this story, and dwelling on our new American normal of constant fear of violent death, this question is starting to mean something else.
It's hard to fathom a stampede of terrified people trampling an old couple in mass desperation to get away from...nothing.
Yes, it's easy for me to say. No, I wasn't there. No, I didn't hear the noise or the rumors of a shooter. No, I can't say for sure how I would have reacted.
This is what we have become?
Are we really so afraid of losing this earthly life?
Is a violent death really the worst thing that could happen to us? Falling from a cliff? Going down in a plane crash? Drowning? Being burned alive? Buried alive? Being beheaded with a knife by a jihadi? Shot by a sagging-britches gang member who was aiming for someone else? Caught without your trusty gun, and choked to death by an intruder?
Losing your loved ones to such horrors?
Public humiliation, career suicide, financial ruin? Dire illness, betrayal?
Being stripped of everything we hold dear in this life?
What do you really consider to be the worst thing that could ever happen to you?
And when was the last time you considered these words:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or sword? Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39)
How easy is it to read these words and still never consider actually facing the painful fates listed by Paul, who knew suffering better than we ever will? How easy is it to forget that many of our ancestors in the faith have met a dreadful end to this earthly life? (Hebrews 11:35-38)
Pain, suffering, tragedy, injustice, and terror are not the worst things that could ever happen to you.
The worst thing that could ever happen to you would be to live this life apart from Christ, grasping hold of this vapor like it's all you'll ever have, clawing back at everything that hurts or scares you, and then dying anyway, only to have Jesus tell you He never knew you.
No, your time on earth is not a cheap thing to be foolishly risked or thrown away for no reason. But it's also not the whole story.
Don't spend it running from nothing.