DANVILLE, GEORGIA: Brent Latelle DuBois, age 49, died this week. The way he died was of natural causes, and out of respect to Brent’s memory and for his precious family, there are no reasons for details.
He is gone. Brent had such a faith in God, and was very involved in his church, Mt Zion, and in leading the youth. I am sure he is watching from his perch on the porch of his mansion in Heaven. If you knew Brent, it is the only logical picture to paint.
The Brent I knew and remember was from school in Bleckley County, Georgia. We were a part of different crowds, and maybe had one or two classes together, and our paths didn’t cross very often, Brent and I shared one thing. He was my birthday buddy, and I was his. He was older – but not by much. We would privately joke about it sharing the same birthday if we passed in the halls or saw each other. One time, I had a note in my locker on our birthday from him. It was something he would remember better than me when I would see him in later years.
But that was the kind of guy Brent was. From the first time he arrived on the scene and became a member of our class and forward, he had this infectious personality that just made you want to like him. Apparently, as an adult, he continued to be just that way – from the tributes I read of him. He was elected as class clown for the Bleckley County High School.
He loved the outdoors. He loved his farm and growing produce. He loved sharing with family, friends, church members and neighbors. Brent served his country in so many ways – and as a career in the medical field helping people in their most vulnerable moments before and after surgeries.
Brent was a loving husband and proud father. He did everything right, or tried to. Or so I was told.
Members of our high school class, and friends – mutual friends – from our community took to social media as soon as the news of Brent’s passing became public. A mixture of emotions took place – sadness, mourning and questioning. In fact, several people wrote, they just couldn’t understand or wrap their heads around the idea about a 49-year-old man of decent health and a good heart – not just physically – would be taken so soon.
Saddened by the loss of classmate … it is normal to have those feelings. But I think as some of us are reaching 50 and are almost 50 or have the age of 50 to look forward to in the next year or two, reality has sunk in. We all have lost someone or know of someone who has passed in our lives – passed, you know, died. But when it is someone your age that you know or knew, well, talk about a gut check.
From what I gather of the adult Brent – and his faith and love of God – he’d not want the grief or the tears.
It is a good thing that God’s door is open 24-7, 365 days a week. I am sure with Brent’s death, there have been a ton of conversations and questions of “Why him, God?”
“What is going on, God? Why did he have to die so soon?” The age old question of “Why does bad things happen to good people?” has surfaced – maybe not in those words. It’s natural to wonder why people die, especially when we lose someone close to us.
Then, I got asked the question. Why did God let Brent die?
Well … I can offer you a ton of valid and scholarly reasons from researchers, Bible teachers and leaders much wiser than I am. I can even point you into the Bible and show you scriptures (God’s own words) about death. I can reach into what I have learned in the 43 years I have been a Christian or grab one of my dad’s or my grandpa’s or uncles’ sermons from the past.
I can tell you the story of Caleb. Caleb was a beautiful blond boy with this amazing personality for one so young – he was seven. He was curious. He was happy. He loved the Lord, and even loved his little sister. A few months shy of starting first grade, Caleb was diagnosed with a rare childhood brain tumor. Cancer at his age … yeah, I know. It crushed a lot of us. I mean, this kid was like wow. He came from a good family. A few months later, he was gone. In fact, during his battle with the cancer, through social media, more than 4,000 people were reached, and Caleb’s story was shared, as was the opportunity to minister to people for the Lord.
Thousands, and more, learned some valuable life lessons through Caleb’s death. A lot of them came to know Christ or rededicated their lives because of Caleb. Was that God’s ultimate purpose in allowing Caleb to die so early?
Was God’s reason for taking Caleb so early to teach us something? Was or is God’s reason for Brent dying so suddenly so that God could ‘complete us, mature us and help us fulfill our purpose in life, and to give you hope? Martin Luther once wrote, “Until a person experiences suffering, he cannot know what it means to hope.”
A.W. Tozer is perhaps one of the most Biblically-sound teachers I know of. He spoke on this very question “Why did he or she have to die?” many times in his sermons and books. He quoted lots of scriptures and theological methods and messages.
I thought for sure he would have an answer. He didn’t. The late Dr. Billy Graham had no answer either. But they made their answers sound good, and what they said was true.
Some answers we will never know. Some we might.
And that is OK. See, God was all over Brent’s life – you can see it in the words of those offering messages of sympathy and testament to Brent. As Brent passed from this life to the next, God was right there with him. That we can be assured of. And He will be all over your’s, if He is not already.All you have to do is ask Him to be.
Death is eventual for all of us. The goal shouldn’t be to live forever, but to create something that will. From looking at Brent’s ministry in his church, on his job and in his community, and with his family, he had done just that.
Rest in peace, Birthday Buddy, you did well. To Brent’s family, we are praying for you and asking for God to be gentle with you and love you through it all.