Yesterday I survived a nasty road accident when the taxi I was in failed to brake. Downhill. Imagine the horror!! We hit an on-coming car and God mercifully helped the driver swerve right back onto the road and not into someone’s gate. It left me shaken.
Death is certain. Death is with us. Death isn’t the end. I know this yet I fear death. I hate to admit this. Sometimes though, I long for it. It’s that bridge one must cross to get to life that’s truly life. Free from all fear and pain.
For a woman who actually believes that the here and now isn’t it, I wonder about my true convictions. If going home (and I truly look forward to life after death) is what I should long for, why do I seem to fear and attempt to fight death at times? Why struggle to stay alive?
I am making peace with the fact that to be human is to feel all these mixed emotions. Life is a gift. Given by the Maker who decides when to take it back.
Having been traumatized by last evening’s close call with death, it made me think of mortality… pain and all that’s broken. I woke up and decided to re-read Tim Keller’s piece, Growing My Faith in the Face of Death. I was thinking about how suffering is indeed a severe mercy ( Sheldon Vanauken’s book introduced me to this phraseology).
A Severe Mercy. How so? Honestly, anything that reminds us of our mortality and our limitations is a gift. Because we are forced to look outside of ourselves for help. We often get distracted by the cares and comforts of this world… these can choke God’s Word out. Yesu warned us about this (Matthew 13: 1-9)
In his book, The Problem of Pain, Chapter 6, C.S Lewis writes,
“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
In that same chapter, he adds;
“Until the evil man finds evil unmistakably present in his existence, in the form of pain, he is enclosed in illusion…. No doubt Pain as God’s megaphone is a terrible instrument: it may lead to final and unrepented rebellion. But it gives the only opportunity the bad man can have for amendment. It removes the veil; it plants the flag of truth within the fortress of a rebel soul.”
– The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume 3 (to Mary Van Deusen on 1/31/1952).
Pain isn’t fun. Neither is it always penal. Suffering doesn’t always mean that God is punishing you. It may be a consequence of one’s actions. What’s sure is that it’s the evidence of a broken world marred by sin. An imperfect world. The book of Job and John 9:1-4 show us that.
After reading Timothy Keller’s article*, I was greatly encouraged… He writes;
It is only as I have become, for lack of a better term, more heavenly minded that I can see the material world for the astonishingly good divine gift that it is.
I have come to be grateful for those sideswipes because they remind me to reorient myself to the convictions of my head and the processes of my heart. When I take time to remember how to deal with my fears and savour my joys, the consolations are stronger and sweeter than ever.
Hardly had I finished reading than I learned of the death of Nerish. A young man who passionately served Yesu. He passed suddenly. Yes, I am still in shock yet there’s a part of me that’s comforted in knowing He is home now!! He is with God. May God comfort His family as only He can.
Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthian church, on the Resurrection , re-echoes the prophets Hosea and Isaiah wrote and foretold;
“Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”- 1 Corinthians 15:54-55 NIV
To the Philippian church he wrote while in prison;
I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body – Philippians 1:20-24 NIV
The emotions are mixed…I get Paul’s dilemma and yet my head is not that big to say with him mbu its necessary for you that I remain on the body. Only God knows why and when He preserves some and takes others. May we fix our eyes on Him always
“..Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.”- Revelation 14:13 NIV
To die in Christ is truly gain!!
*Hosea 13:14 and *Isaiah 25:8