There is a certain mysterious and mystical quality to the unfolding of the events of life when seen through the eyes of one who lives in the shadow of the cross. It is a humbling experience, one that draws attention to the fragile nature of our mortal lives, while pulling back the veil on the heavenly realms to reveal a love so pure and so perfect that we are left with unspeakable joy.
A number of changes in my life have taken place of late, some seemingly small, and others quite monumental. All of them have affected me in profound ways and have caused me to ponder just how incredible and overwhelming the death and resurrection of Jesus truly is. Throughout the season of Lent, I had grown somewhat complacent in my devotion to Christ, thinking my walk with him this year had been deep and meaningful. But as I have experienced a number of new deaths, I have called into question just how devoted I really am to the One who died in my place.
A Sick Pet and a Broken Relationship
Recently, my daughter’s hamster, Luna, began breathing erratically and became sluggish and withdrawn. She stopped eating and drinking and remained in her house most of the day. Now, some might not think much of a sick hamster, but to watch the suffering of this beautiful little animal, a source of joy in my daughter’s life, has been very sorrowful indeed. I saw what it meant for my daughter and for all of us when she died, and yet, that is the nature of having a pet. Still, her sudden death has made me keenly aware of just how much impact the smallest and most insignificant life can have on us all.
This month too, I had to face the harsh reality of a broken relationship within my extended family. Such news hit hard, causing me to wonder if anything in this world lasts anymore. Oh, there were signs of what was to come but we all ignored them. And now, we are all going through the stages of grief, each in our own way. For my part, I have tried to offer the hope of the Gospel to hurting family members. In sharing my faith, I have taken a closer look at my own marriage and family, lest I see any signs of struggle I have missed.
The Sorrow that Gives Way to Joy
As believers, we are told to live sober lives of service and surrender to the cause of Christ. We are also promised that we will have trials and sorrows in this life, but can experience joy because Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33). As I reflect on the sorrow of losing a pet or witnessing a broken family relationship, I am left with nowhere to turn but the cross. I know none of these events have escaped the loving concern or the sovereign grace of the One who gave his only begotten Son for the world. The Savior who became like us in all things but sin (Hebrews 2:17) still grieves with us and offers us the comfort of his Holy Spirit.
Each time I confront the sadness of these and other daily deaths, I know I must take them before the cross and look up to see my Lord crucified for my sin. I cannot look away from the man of sorrows; nor can I ignore the anguish or the utter abandonment he faced in order to open up the way to heaven. However, I know that, along with the cross, there is the empty tomb. The grave could not hold our King. Friday brought the night, but Sunday brought the dawn.
Springtime and a Couple Dead Trees
In our backyard, there were two dead trees that had to come down. I found it somewhat sad that, at the beginning of the spring I had to remove these two grand trees that had been part of the landscape for longer than our family has lived here. The look of our yard is forever changed, the shade these trees provided will be missed, and their deaths are once more a reminder that nothing in this world is permanent. But such divinely appointed lessons are not only necessary but life-changing.
I take joy in the fact that Easter takes place in the springtime when the frozen soil of winter receives the warmth of the sun and begins to come to life once more. It is a beautiful reminder that death will never have the last word, that sorrow gives way to joy, and that the resurrection is a living reality that is ever transforming us from glory to glory. I know that, even though these trees are gone, the wood they have left behind will become a part of our joyful memories as we sit by the fireplace for a number of winters to come. Such joy moves me to split the wood with a sense of hope that, in the end, cannot be shaken.
Weariness and Wonder
The daily deaths I experience can and often wear me down. I take them into my being and accept that they can overwhelm me and drive me to my knees. But that is the beauty of the resurrection that lies beyond these realities. I know that, though my outer man is wasting away, I am being renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16) by the One who faced the grave and came out on the other side — for me! I will miss Luna when she is gone. And I will continue to support my family members who are facing the tough times ahead. I can only do this because of the resurrection power that lives and moves in me through the Holy Spirit. It is a wonderful truth that keeps me going from faith to faith.
I am grateful that God loves me enough to allow the deaths I face to shape me into the man I am becoming in him. Though I hate to face change and death, I know it is a part of life, a part of this broken world that is being transformed and someday will be made new. I am joyous that I am a part of the Bride of Christ, being made more beautiful through the trials we face. The knowledge of what is to come, made manifest in the resurrection of our Lord, continues to turn my daily deaths into new dawns of hope.
May the joy of the resurrection we celebrate at Easter help you to face the daily deaths you experience and change you from glory to glory into the one our God is shaping you to become. God bless!