Truth bears repeating:
Sorrow and joy often walk hand in hand.
The culmination of hope and prayers produced a wedding. The bride, known and loved by me from her mother’s womb, marrying for the first time at the age of 47. To witness such a union was a reminder that every good and perfect gift is always worth the wait. Our Father is never late in delivering His best.
The birth of a child, greatly loved and desired, even as her father anticipated delivering the eulogy for his beloved cousin that very afternoon, his hospital ID bracelet still on his wrist. The Lord gives and He takes away.
A celebration of a young life, abruptly ended. Tray, a 35-year-old father of four, spoken of as kind, genuine, loving, caring, faithful, generous, servant, diligent, devoted, persevering, quiet, humble, mentor, selfless and resilient…never in a hurry; a lover of Jesus, his 4 children, his music and those he served. Though he seemed to have had more than his share of troubles, he excelled in perseverance. He was thought of as a father figure to his peers- known to them as “Traddy.” A good man with much to give. His imprint is deep.
Why is it that we rarely ask “why” when we’re feeling blessed? Weddings and babies bring feelings of joy and we welcome them unabashedly. But, when the life of someone we love and care for is ended, “why?” is often the predominant reaction. Do we believe we are getting something we don’t deserve or is it that we just eschew personal suffering? The seasons of life are unpredictable, but, inevitable. We are not guaranteed a specified amount of time. These days, many are living to their 90’s with those over 65 being the fastest growing segment of society. But, the lives of children and many “in-betweens” are often ended “too soon” by our standards. What do we do with that? Do we accept the blessing and curse the losses? And, the God who allows them?
En route to Tray’s memorial service, another young man came to mind. Again, by our standards, his life was over too soon. He had a mother who grieved, friends who were devastated. He was only 33. His name was Jesus. In 33 short years on earth, He changed to world and was able to say He had finished the work He was given to do. Was his death mourned? Did his people grieve? Indeed. But by His death and subsequent resurrection, He is still changing the world.
Growing old is a blessing we all hope for, but there is never a good time to say good-bye to those we love. The best we can hope for is to live fully, with gratitude for the day before us, for the people we love and for those who have loved us and, for me: to hear at the end of this road, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
My friends, the only way to carry on is to treasure the cheers and endure the tears. As we press on in life, cheers will morph into tears and back again. Life will begin and life will end. Time will continue to march on. In all of this there is a hope that will not fail. Let us embrace the One who enables us to endure the tears that obstruct our view until we can see that it’s still a beautiful life and there’s still work to be done.
For some added reading and encouragement, may I commend to you~
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18-Phillips Translation
Now we don’t want you, my brothers, to be in any doubt about those who “fall asleep” in death, or to grieve over them like men who have no hope. After all, if we believe that Jesus died and rose again from death, then we can believe that God will just as surely bring with Jesus all who are “asleep” in him. Here we have a definite message from the Lord. It is that those who are still living when he comes will not in any way precede those who have previously fallen asleep. One word of command, one shout from the archangel, one blast from the trumpet of God and the Lord himself will come down from Heaven! Those who have died in Christ will be the first to rise, and then we who are still living on the earth wil be swept up with them into the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And after that we shall be with him forever. God has given me this message on the matter, so by all means use it to encourage one another.