January 31, 2024
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away’” (Revelation 21:3-4, NIV).
We had experienced a wonderful morning with my wife, my son, his wife and two of my grandchildren. I had run a few miles in the dawn along the bay with my son. We had experienced a wonderful church service, and now we were eating at an outside table reflecting on the magnificence of the day. My daughter-in-law received a text on her phone, and her face fell. A young couple they knew had just delivered their second child who died at birth with the umbilical cord around his neck.
We can’t always hide from the huge cruelty of life.
It’s always there, mixed in with the great wonder and joy of life—a brokenness seeping up up from the soil of our fallen world.
Oswald Chamber best describes this truth of life and the hope of Christians: “There is a gap and wildness in things, and if God does not step up and adjust it, there is no hope; but God has stepped in by the Redemption, and our part is to trust Him. Either the pessimist is right and we are autumn leaves driven by the blast of some ultimate, mindless power; or else the way out is by the Redemption of Jesus Christ.”
I can remember as if it were yesterday the moment my close friend and medical colleague discovered his advanced pancreatic cancer. “Now it’s my time,” he said.
So, though most of our lives are good and even joyful, we cannot escape the circumstances where it is finally “my time” for me or those we love.
What do we do as people of hope when confronted with the real tragedies in life?
- Clearly ground ourselves in the truth of life: “…In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, NKJV).
- Go to the only One who has the answers: “The questions that really matter in life are remarkably few, and they all are answered by the words, ‘Come to Me,’” as Oswald Chambers said.
- Love with action: Ask God if He wishes you to be part of His answer to the pain.
- Grieve in community: Isolation only magnifies hopelessness.
- Continue with God’s mission for your life regardless of the circumstances. “…being confident of this, that he who begana good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6, NIV).
- Do not let go of joy: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near,” wrote Paul, the apostle, awaiting death in prison (Philippians 4:4-5, NIV).
Maranatha! And, until then, let us trust, rest and live in you.