Saturday, February 9, 2013

how's life?

My wife has been helping a lady from our church fellowship fix up one of her rental houses. She is helping her because her husband just died. While she was at the house, she called me and asked if I could come over and do some minor repairs. Being presently unemployed, I wonder about each activity I take on. Is this what I really should be doing now? Is it really the appropriate use of my time? But since James defines real religion as visiting widows in their affliction; and the prophets expound on the curses that God will be bring against those who oppress and do not support the widows; and since God Himself singles out widows as those to whom He does acts of great kindness, I figured maybe I’d come.

This lady’s husband had been battling cancer for eleven years. He had been through a whole regime of treatments. Finally the doctors said nothing more could be done. His spirits were good till the very end, but, to say the least, he had been through it.

His widow had been strong at the funeral. She was poised and controlled. “How does she do it?” I heard several people ask. But death has a way about it. This week has been tough for her. I had this really ignorant idea that there would be some sort of closure for her when her husband finally died.
I think I understand why Jesus wept at the grave of His good friend Lazarus. He wept just moments before He called Lazarus out of the grave. He had told his disciples two days earlier that He was going to raise Lazarus.

We had a speaker at our camp who declared that when his wife died, he would rejoice. “She’ll be in glory,” he said. “She’ll be with her Savior. Is that something to weep about?”

Paul writes that as Believers, our whole lives are about the resurrection. “If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most pitiful.” Paul tells the Philippians: “My desire is to depart and be with Christ.” Phil 1:23 As Believers, this truly is our desire also. That’s why believe. If we believe in this life only, we are creatures to be pitied. 1 Cor 15:19. Regardless, I won’t be rejoicing if my wife dies. My kids tell me they hope I die before their mother for they dread observing the grief I would go through.

Jacob told Pharaoh, “The days of my sojourning have been few and evil.” To be a human being and to be alive is to know pain. Yet Jacob’s complaint about the shortness of his life came before he complained about its painfulness. In Ecclesiastes the writer mourns over and over that there is nothing under the sun that is truly satisfying in life but then he writes, “a living dog is better than a dead lion.” Eccl 9:4.

I was in a car accident a few months after my first daughter was born. I was knocked unconscious and as I was waking up in the ambulance, my brain rebooted. It went through all the significant events of my life from earliest childhood. First one sad thing, and another, and another. Then I remembered Roxanne, then Story Book, then this little baby. “Is this true?” I remember thinking? Am I really married to Roxanne? And we have a little girl named Priscilla? And I live at a Bible camp? I’d always wanted to live at a Bible camp.” I couldn’t believe it. It was too good! And this was my life.

When God created life on this earth, He observed what He had done and saw that it was good. But when He observed His human creation together with all the other life He had created, we read, “And behold! It was very good!” Gen 1:31

So why did Jesus weep at the grave of Lazarus and why should we weep (and not celebrate) at funerals? Because life is good. 
Our God, the only God, the God who is good and who only can do good, is first and foremost the Creator of Life. When something so good is extinguished, how can one be so bold, so ignorant as to not be sad? Life is so good that the Author of Life gave His Son over to death so that this life within the cosmos might become eternal life and “what is sown perishable is raised imperishable; and what is sown in dishonor is raised in glory.” 1 Cor 15:42, 43.

From millenniums of observation, we humans know all about evil and the consequences of evil. We know there really is no reforming of evil. Death is evil’s only solution. Only death can bring an end to all that is bad. Scripture tells us that though “the wages of sin is death, the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Rom 6:23. Death is so sad. But life is so good, God doesn’t want it to end for us

Writing has been what I ached to do ever since I was terminated from my reporting job at the Mesabi Daily News about 30 years ago. Now that I’ve been terminated from there again, I get to write (please check out the Henry Sardina story at: So, “how's life?” you might ask me. "Good! Thanks for asking!" And thank you very much for reading!

1 comment:

  1. This has really made me think, and I feel like it has given me a better understanding of death and our response. Really, really good.