Monday, October 14, 2013

The odd markings of death

Most of us have no problem celebrating birthdays...that is unless we're turning 29, 39, or 49.

Remembering the day we got married is usually an amazing day, as well... unless that marriage is difficult or has ended in divorce.

If you're not already depressed, read on, but know this post contains some heaviness.

The older we get, the more our years become filled with memories both positive and negative. We have more friends who enter our lives that bring us joy, but also conflict. As our families expand we have more celebrations of life through births and weddings but we also face the reality of tragedy through death and division. As we grow older, the more relationships we gather and the more we must say goodbye to people we love. It can be celebrities, neighbors, friends, and families... our lives become marked by death individually and corporately. One day someone is there, an another they are not.

One generation memorializes death by terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001, and another generation will never forget the presidential assassination on November 22nd 1963.

So, as weird and unwanted as it is, our lives, our years, become marked by death. It's so odd. But it illustrates how our lives were meant to be lived. We live life in a rhythm, in seasons

 Ecclesiastes 3 says:
 There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
   a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build, 
 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing
  a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away, 
 a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak, 
 a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

In "times" like these, God encourages, permits, and urges us to sit quietly, express anger, shed tears, fall into the arms of others, and simply acknowledge this is not how life was meant to be. We can't always makes sense of it. We are not yet in Heaven. We are caught in a world where there is more than meets the eye, supernatural and evil forces pressing against God, his goodness, and his creation (us). And the whole time we make our way through, whether we feel victorious or defeated,  we can be confident that God is with us. (Psalm 34:18). And we are able, miraculously, to find and to pray, for Heaven (and all it's amazing qualities) to come to Earth, and to come to our lives, into our hearts!

Today, I'm marked by the unfortunate memory and unnatural death caused by suicide. It brings up sadness, confusion, and the reality that this world is not our true home. It reminds me that we are complicated beings, we are prone to self-destruction, to hurt others, to lose focus on our life's purpose, and to deny the beauty of our worth and value by the one who created us. But I"m thankful to be comforted by the love of God, and the promise of Heaven.

See, death was not God's plan. In our sin, humans initiated this (in the Garden of Eden).

We failed to trust God, broke his plans for our lives, and had to suffer consequences (experiencing distance from him and physical death). But the God sent Jesus to make all things right. Jesus makes things new. And now we are invited to walk with God as Father once again. Jesus reversed the effects of our sin. So although we still die a physical death, we are invited to live forever with him. We can live in his love and live in HIS comfort THROUGH the pain of this earthly life. God has given us a way of making sense of life's darkness. 

So whether you find yourself in a "season" of transition, hard decision making, unemployment, financial hardship, conflict, depleting heath, marriage difficulty, grief, loneliness, disappointment, or  ______________ (fill in the blank). You are invited to live in the abundant life and power of Jesus, who gave his life for us, so that he could offer us his Holy Spirit to live within us. He can be trusted, and with him, we can overcome anything. No sadness, discouragement, or trouble needs to overtake us. It's OK to enter and experience the odd markings and rhythm of these things, for we can't avoid them. But we mustn't be defined by them.

John 16:33

Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world!"