Last Sunday, December 1, I lost a good friend - Tim Coomer. I must admit, I was stunned when I received the news. Tim was a good Christian man, a teacher, a husband and father, and a friend to many. It was hard to fathom that he was no longer with us.
I first became friends with Tim several years ago when I was asked to join a fantasy football league with several other men from our church. I didn't really know Tim before that. At first, the trash talk bothered me, and to be quite honest, he annoyed me. But as the weeks went on, I started to realize that Tim was just having fun. He was enjoying the league, and he wanted us to enjoy it, too. And while the league was all about fun and camaraderie, he was still very competitive. He won the championship that year, and the next year. He then won it again a few years later. He never passed up an opportunity to let anyone know that he won the league championship 3 times.
Along with the fantasy football and the trash talking, there was the friendship and fellowship that he enjoyed. He would hold a fantasy football draft party at his home. He would hold an end-of-the-year party at his house. My family and I would be able to join in these fellowships on several occasions. He enjoyed being with people. And we, in turn, enjoyed being with him, and his family.
Outside of the fun and frivolity of fantasy football, Tim and I had the opportunity to serve together on the Deacon Board for one year. This was a job that both of us took seriously. Tim was very sincere as a deacon. He was deliberate in the decisions that needed to be made.
Tim and I enjoyed going back and forth on Facebook. I am sure that there were some innocent bystanders scratching their heads and wondering how the two of us could even be friends, given some of our Facebook conversations. I enjoyed "checking in" at various places, just so I could get a some kind of response from Tim. He would generally reply back with a comment like "thanks" or "I'm glad I know what you are doing. I was getting worried." If I we were eating out, I liked to take a picture of my meal and post it on Facebook, knowing that this annoyed him. I liked to find news articles about the failure of the public education system, knowing that he would have a reply indicating he disagreed with me. Yes, we had a unique friendship.
Tim was a teacher, by trade. He enjoyed teaching. He had a passion for teaching. While I did not share his appreciation for the public education system in this country, I could tell from talking to him that he was passionate about his job. He wanted to help young people succeed. He wanted to help young people learn. He wanted to be a mentor and role model to these young people. He also enjoyed being a Sunday School teacher, for all of the same reasons mentioned above.
But it was not until about 3 years ago that Tim and I forged a closer friendship. When my wife and I asked the church to make an announcement that our daughter had Down Syndrome, Tim was the first person that sent me a message. In what seemed like only minutes after this request went out via e-mail, Tim sent me a text letting me know that they were praying for us. He let me know that he was there if I ever needed to talk to anyone. He tried to encourage me that even though it seemed daunting at the time, we would be able to get through it. And over the course of the next 3 years, we spoke several times about this. He like to check up on Hannah to see how she was doing and advancing. He always had words of wisdom and encouragement.
For the last few months of his life, Tim had some health problems. He was frustrated that they could not find the source of his health issues. He was frustrated that these problems were keeping him from church. He was frustrated that these problems were keeping him out of his classroom. I could see at this time that he really did have a passion for teaching. He had a desire to be back in the classroom with his students.
It's been difficult to deal with the loss of a good friend. I would be lying if I said I did not miss him. I would be lying if I said that I have not shed some tears about this loss (and I do not think that this is a bad thing).
But I do not need to dwell negatively on this. I can find encouragement in the fact that Tim was a born-again Christian. Because Tim knew Jesus Christ as his personal Savior, I will be able to see him again in heaven.
I can find encouragement in the fact that Tim is no longer suffering from any physical problems. While his last few months on earth were spent in some serious pain, he is now in the presence of the Great Physician, who is watching over him and caring for him.
I can find encouragement in the fact that even though his death was sudden, his life had a lasting impact on those around him. Because of his faith and testimony, at least 20 people accepted Christ as their personal Savior at his memorial service.
I am encouraged to know that, even in times of grief and mourning, Jesus cares about us. This is captured in the words of a song, written by Frank Graeff.
Does Jesus care when my heart is pained
Too deeply for mirth or song,
As the burdens press, and the cares distress,
And the way grows weary and long?
Does Jesus care when I’ve said “goodbye”
To the dearest on earth to me,
And my sad heart aches till it nearly breaks—
Is it aught to Him? Does He see?
Oh, yes, He cares, I know He cares,
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,
I know my Savior cares.
Tim is going to be missed. I will miss zeal for life. I will miss his humor. I will miss his friendship. But the separation will only be temporary, because we will be able to see him once again when we get to heaven.,