Matters of Life and Death
This weekend, I got a call from Calla, my three-year-old neice. In her adorable, super-excited, Kentucky-accented voice, she said, ”Aunt Krista, guess what? I’m going to be a big sister!”
I squealed with her and told her I know she will be a terrific big sister. Then she handed the phone to her mom – my baby sister – and I squealed with her. A new life is growing inside her. It is wonderful.
The same day, we got an update on my mother-in-law. Unless God chooses to work a miracle (which He could!), she is is facing her final days. Cancer is growing inside her, torturing her, ripping the life from her. It is awful.
Life and death.
Joy and pain.
Happiness and grief.
I wonder, as I give praise for one and prayers for the other, how anyone can survive the radical ups and downs of this life without knowing Christ. He is the source of all good gifts, the giver of life. And he is the Rock we cling to when the storms of life threaten to drown us.
Knowing Christ doesn’t insulate us from life. Jesus himself said that we should expect difficulties. He modeled that for us – enduring temptation, persecution, and even death – an excruciating death that he did not deserve. This life isn’t easy, it isn’t perfect. We will experience pain. But this life is good, too. There are incredible joys, beauty all around us that we sometimes forget to see when circumstances weigh us down.
But the greatest joy I have – in both the happiness and the heartache – is knowing that this life is not our only life. In fact, compared to what is in store for us, this life is nothing – a vapor, a mist, dew on the grass. The greatest joys we can experience here pale in comparison to the joy that awaits us. And the greatest pain will be forgotten when we step out of these sin-trapped bodies into our eternal home.
So I will rejoice with those who rejoice, and I will weep with those who weep. I will live this life with the next life in mind. Because, as the beautiful old hymn teaches, “My hope is built on nothing less/than Jesus’ blood/ and righteousness.”