Let’s begin in a seemingly haphazard place…death.
But maybe that is a good beginning place for my life. One trying to make sense of such a misplaced and unwarranted paradox may assume that I speak of death metaphorically and maybe, somehow, this paradox of death and life refers simply to my faith. And, that would be true; the parallels can not go unnoticed. But when I speak of my life coming from death, I couldn’t mean it more literally.
That is the great paradox of my life: I have life as a result of someone dying.
Can you imagine your life resulting from death?
The questions flow.
Is it possible that the same eyes that shed tears of loss will one day shed tears of joy?
Is it possible that days of great sorrow and great loss can be redeemed through an entire life?
Is it possible that a life did not pass in vain but can be honored by what one does with his life?
I often think about the grief my grandparents experienced when an aunt I never knew died as a one month old baby to whooping cough.
The anticipation of pregnancy.
The joy of a new arrival.
The excitement of each new day watching your child grow.
The grief of losing a child.
The sadness of saying goodbye.
The despair of each passing day since you laid your child to rest.
I wonder where the tears go when they fall from the face of parents who have lost a child? Do they fall and land on the cold hard ground to just vanish away like the child who was buried?
Or do the tears of our grief and suffering fall on a welcoming and fertile soil that is preparing for what will be sown?
My grandparents would visit a cemetery next to a church each Sunday. And while they weren’t Christians, the church folks would comfort, console, and befriend them in their loss. Through the kindness and compassion of that church, my grandparents began to follow Jesus…and they also decided to have another baby that they were not planning to have….my dad.
Because of the death of a precious child…seeds were planted within my grandparents and God made them grow. As the seeds sprouted, blossomed, and produced fruit, they planted seeds within my dad and his older sister that God watered and made grow. And from that fruit children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren have come to know the way of Jesus…and they have continued sowing seeds of the Kingdom of God to tens of thousands of people.
I have life and Life.
I sit here breathing, thinking, contemplating.
Is it possible that the same eyes that shed tears of sadness on a welcoming fertile ground will one day shed tears of joy for the seeds I have planted in that ground?
Is it possible that the days of great sorrow and great loss can be redeemed through a lifetime of gratitude, joy, and blessing that I experience and pass on?
Is it possible that a young life did not pass away in vain but can be honored with what I do with my life, how I live it, and how I pass it on?
The Christian is confronted by the paradox of the Holy Scriptures when told to consider it pure joy when faced with all kinds of trials. For we know that joy does not come from suffering itself but from the assurance that God is working through our suffering for the redemption of humanity and the restoring of all things. It is as if the greatest of human suffering pales in comparison to the glory that will be revealed.
This is where we join Christ…in suffering. The Christian is not exempt from suffering, but we face it with the faith and assurance that God is working through all things, including the worst tragedies, for our greater good and for the extension of his Kingdom into the hearts and minds of each and every person.
“Now if we are children, then we are heirs..heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Romans 8:17