I did not know him at all. I had never met him in person. And yet, I was deeply saddened by the passing of Alex Trebek on Sunday. Like so many, I had invited Mr. Trebek into my home nightly to entertain and educate me through his engaging banter as the host of “Jeopardy” (which is, in my opinion, the very best gameshow ever created). I had regularly appreciated the humor and the heart of a man I had known little about, and I am now mourning his death as if a dear friend had departed.
I have been asking myself since I heard the news if it is appropriate to be so deeply sorrowful at the loss of a stranger. I suppose, with hindsight, that I have attended a few funerals for elderly family members that I knew only in stories. I can also remember times that neighbors that I barely knew by sight have died and I have expressed remorse. It is further true that I am given daily updates of the numbers affected by COVID-19 – which reported that 464 people also died last Sunday due to the virus – and I am grieved, even though I did not know anyone represented by this statistic.
It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart. Ecclesiastes 7:2
It is wholly appropriate to grieve the death of those who we know only in passing. In fact, it is wholly appropriate, and indeed beneficial, to grieve the death of those who have passed regularly. It is good to be reminded that life is short and remember that loss is real. It is healthy to consider, on a consistent basis, that we are mortal and thus are sorrowful with those in the grips of despair. There is benefit in acknowledging, as seen through the tributes that various networks broadcast for Alex Trebek, that the imposition of death and the confrontation of our own demise can lead to others seeking treatment.
It is when we are confronted with death, the final enemy of each human life, that we accept that we cannot escape the inevitable, and, in those moments, we turn back to our creator for comfort and cure. Death is indeed an immovable object; however, Christ is indeed an unstoppable force.
His death and resurrection afford all those who trust in Him unto salvation, by faith through grace, a victory over death; it affords us a conquering of the ultimate foe. Still, despite this gift of God in Jesus, the truth remains that many refuse to accept the reality of our own mortality. Perhaps, then, it is part of God’s mercy to confront our blindness with the passing of celebrity strangers.
My thoughts and prayers go out to the Trebek family and to all those who have suffered a loss in recent days. May the reality of Christ – and His resurrection – bring comfort and peace to all those who are saddened today.