Thinking Out Loud

May 28, 2010

Why Am I Still Here?

Though I had already been notified, a thought occured to me while I was reading yesterday about the death of Rhonda Glenn, who had worked in broadcasting previously as Rhonda London.

Rhonda enjoyed a successful broadcasting career in Ontario, Canada when she decided to join CTS, a family-friendly Christian television station affiliated with Crossroads, the organization that produces Canada’s daily Christian talk show, 100 Huntley Street. She was given her own afternoon talk show, but later decided to leave broadcasting altogether to persue a career in law.   She would have been called to the bar in just a few weeks.

She had married an Anglican minister and they had a son.   The next chapter of life was just beginning when she was diagnosed with brain cancer which ended her life just weeks after diagnosis.   Pray for her son and husband and family.

But I had this thought later on, that probably many of you have in times like this, “Why her and not me?”   Or, “Why am I still here?”

I think much of this has to do with the phrase often used in situations like this, “God took her.”   Years ago, my wife attended the funeral of a young girl who died several days after a brain seizure.    There was a poem read or sung that said something to the effect that ‘God must have needed another angel in heaven.’   It was perhaps comforting imagery, but not entirely sound theology.

I think the “Why am I still here?” question is directly related to the way in which we use words.

I took a course in university on the Philosophy of Language.   It was a seminar format, what I would call a 7-11 course (a minimum of seven people sitting around a table, eleven people if everyone showed up.)  The professor sat almost at a corner of the table and I sat in the corner at the opposite end.   There was something comfortable about that environment, and when people thought I was taking copious notes, I was actually writing songs.   But I enjoyed the readings, interjected ideas into the discussion, and somehow ended up with a B+.

Anyway, the point of the course was that our ideas and concepts are shaped by the way our given languages identify or reference those ideas and concepts.    So when we use a phrase like “God took her,” we’re loading the phrase with kinds of assumptions about the nature of God and His involvement in our day-to-day affairs.

Furthermore, since it often seems like some of the best and brightest die, as we might say, before their time, it then leaves us wondering why God would choose to take them.   This was the question someone asked me just hours after we heard the news of Keith Green‘s death:  Why him and not one of the lesser Christian musicians?   That question contains the twist of implying that somewhere that day a Christian singer or songwriter was destined to die, and it was just a coin toss as to which one.    (Fortunately, because people say things in moments like this that we shouldn’t judge, we have the liberty of excusing questions like this which are not more thoroughly considered.)

I don’t know what Rhonda might have accomplished in her family, church-life or new carreer.   My guess is: probably a lot.  I just know that I am still here, and while I think my life pales in comparison to all that she did accomplish, it’s up to me to try to make the most of the day for God’s glory.

You’re reading this, so you have been given another day, too; what are you going to do with it?


  1. Thanks for the thoughtful post. It brought this Chesterton poem to mind:

    “Here dies another day,
    During which I have had eyes, ears, hands
    And the great world round me.
    And with tomorrow begins another.
    Why am I allowed two?”
    — G.K. Chesterton

    I will pray for Rhonda’s family.

    Comment by Meg Moseley — May 28, 2010 @ 10:21 am

    • hm. did you ever come up with an answer??? im sure it was meant to be pretty deep coming from Gods eyes.

      Comment by steffanie blum — April 6, 2012 @ 6:20 pm

  2. Whether we are considered talented or accomplished, all of our lives count

    Comment by colleen — August 19, 2010 @ 12:05 am

  3. You have not really answered the question as to why Rhonda died so young. I don’t think there is an answer to that question. I do know that the world for me drained of color on the day she was diagnosed. And while I will continue to live my life and raise my kids and love my husband; a part of my life is filled with a pain that will never heal and life is less vibrant and joyful than it was before she died. My sister Rhonda and I were very busy people in the years before she died. I always thought we would have more time to catch up when she was finished law school. What I have taken away from her death is that none of us know how many days we have on this Earth and we should spend as much time as we can with those we love. That and the knowledge that many of the things we think are sources of anxiety and stress are nothing compared to the finality of death. We should squeeze the light and joy out of every day until it is spent. This was my first Christmas without my sister. I will never forget her faith and her courage upon being diagnosed with a terminal illness.

    Comment by Anne London-Weinstein — December 28, 2010 @ 6:16 pm

    • Anne,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to write. You’re right, I didn’t answer the question, and sometimes there are no answers. Since writing this blog post, I read Philip Yancey’s What Good is God?. The thing that struck me was that he didn’t answer the question, either, but instead showed the sufficiency of God to meet the anguish of people going through difficult times. I would prefer a world where there was not this kind of pain, but I think that basically, God would prefer that, too. There are no answers…

      Rhonda was a courageous person and you were blessed to have her as a sister. Thank you for sharing today.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — December 28, 2010 @ 6:42 pm

    • Our hearts are with you, as I read this article and your reply Anne I remembered many years ago when you had this same pain.You are right there are no answers for some things. As you know our days on the earth are limited and unpredictable. One of the important decisions we will make is to serve and follow the Lord this side of heaven. Our hearts will ache for those that have gone and it aches more if we don’t know where. But you do and so did she. My heart is with you and your family. I am sorry this happened to you and your family.

      Comment by Brenda — March 28, 2011 @ 1:23 pm

  4. God continues to hold us up. My Mom is 76 and has managed to survive this terrible loss. I still have times when the pain in my chest is so sharp and I think that it can’t be real that Rhonda is not with us anymore. It seems surreal. Yancey is an excellent writer. I find that being around other people who have lost loved ones is comforting as well. Not in a commiserating type of thing, but more like you feel comfortable as they too are in that “other” group: people who have lost a close loved one. Please continue to pray for Rhonda’s son Mattie. He is so young to be without a Mommy.

    Comment by Anne London-Weinstein — February 24, 2011 @ 9:26 pm

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