New Life: Finding Christ in Joy and Sorrow
-Jacob Marshall, Pastor of Visitation and Outreach
Today was a surreal experience as a pastor.
Early this morning I headed down to our local hospital, armed with Tudor’s biscuits and accompanied by my wife and sons, to see the parents of two newborn babies. From the hallway I notice the bright pink announcement on the door, and enter to find family exhaustingly enamored with God’s masterful addition to their family. Faces are tired, hair is disheveled, but there is a sense of joy, excitement, and nervousness that’s almost palpable in the cramped little room.
30 minutes later I pulled into the funeral home parking lot.
Weaving through the maze of cars I reached the door and entered. Dark colors and down-turned faces line the first three rows of pews. Tissue boxes dot the landscape. I sign myself into the guest book and find my seat in the back as pianoed hymns and subdued flower arrangements fill the grieving space. The sound of sniffles break the silence, followed by a sharp cough, before the preacher addresses the gathered. Memories are shared from long friends as pictures of the deceased cycle across a TV screen up front. Everything is in the past tense. An old story brings almost a painful laugh and smile but the shock, sadness, and deep breaths remind us of what really can’t be happening.
To go from the celebration of life’s beginning to the painful acknowledgement of life’s end in a matter of miles and minutes was jolting. In the first case, we look with eagerness at such little hands and feet. God’s creation through a father and mother is as close to perfect as we’ll touch in this age. Balloons and candy announce to all, Rejoice, life has begun!
Then at the same moment across town, shaky hands grip together in a prayer that they can merely make it through the day. A day that came far too soon. The room is full of others but it’s void of a familiar voice, a turn of the head, a warm hand. Tears that hurt pour down faces as songs and Scripture speak of things to come, but the close of a lid and the view of a hearst shake us with the reality of sin and death, of loss, and we weep.
As a Christian, the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ informs both my rejoicing with new parents and my tears with mourners.
God is present with both and speaks to each situation with clear truth. To the new parents, the infants’ cries remind us of God’s precious gift, the magic of new life. Who can’t but rejoice in God’s unmistakable handiwork when you peer through that nursery window? Praise our Creator!
And yet to the mourners, as despairing and dark as today is, we must remember that hope in the crucified, resurrected, and returning Savior brings with it the sure expectation of a coming day without death, of a new life on a new earth.
In both cases, we realize that it is God alone who gives new life, and so we cling to Him.