Today (actually yesterday by a few minutes), my church family welcomed Molly into the world around 4 A.M., and we said goodbye to Joyce around 6 P.M.
Molly is our pastor's fourth grandchild, his first granddaughter. We have been praying for her and for her mom for some time, looking forward to this day.
Joyce is our beloved sister in Christ. She has battled cancer for six years. She's fought it, and she's fought with a faith and confidence in the Lord that never seemed to waver. We have been praying for her for some time, trying to stave off this day.
Molly can do little for herself. For the last few weeks, Joyce could do little for herself.
Molly will require her parents' constant care for some time as she grows. Joyce required her husband's constant care as she died.
The conjunction of birth and death in one day causes one to think.
It causes one to rearrange one's concept of "birth and death," for in the truer sense, Joyce did not die; today she entered into a new life. This earthly life was the womb that pushed her into a new life today.
When Molly was born, we rejoiced and she cried. When Joyce moved on, she rejoiced and we cried.
The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Today he gave Molly, and today he took Joyce. But he also gave Joyce--he gave to her joy and rest and so much more.
Birth and death, the bookends of this life. The conjunction of the two remind one of what's really important. What is really important? What is crucial?
It's Christ. It's one's position relative to Christ, one's stance toward him. Death hinges on Christ. Faith in Christ leads to eternal joy in his presence. Unbelief leads to eternal shame and suffering apart from him in hell. When one dies, we earnestly hope they were trusting in Christ. In Joyce's case, we know she was trusting Christ.
Jesus didn't die for nothing. The cross isn't just a riveting storyline; he died for a reason. The human race was in a pickle; no other solution for their sins could be produced. Thus did Jesus take the drastic action he did, going to the cross. Ignoring the necessity of the cross is a devastating bit of foolishness.
Molly and Joyce. We look forward to seeing Molly as she grows up. We look forward to seeing Joyce when we go up.
In many ways, Joyce's position today is the enviable one. From one dismal perspective, Molly has entered onto a road that leads inevitably to the grave; but Joyce is past the grave. Molly's condition is terminal; not Joyce's.
"Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NIV)