Twenty-eight year old Natalie went into the hospital last week with a stomach bug. She died a few days later. Walking with her and her family through unimaginable heartache and unexpected loss gave me time to reflect on life.
What do you do when faced with tragedy? Most try to find reasons, things or people they can blame. Questions emerge. Were there drugs involved? What did she do? Did the doctors make a mistake? How could this happen?
This time, there is no one and nothing to blame. Natalie was a likeable person. She was young. She was an over-achiever. Not just smart, she was a valedictorian. She worked her way through nursing school, graduated without debt and owned her own home while most of her peers were still trying to figure out which bills to pay first.
No, she wasn’t perfect. Yes, she had her share of challenges. But there simply is no easy way to explain away her “untimely” passing.
Tragedies such as this are why many of Natalie’s peers have embraced fatalistic and narcissistic attitudes and behaviors. What’s the point of working hard or trying to get ahead in a world where things like this can happen to anybody?!? “Live for today, for tomorrow may never come…” Right?
Well, if this life were it, I suppose that line of thought could be right. The reality is, there is much more to this life than meets the eye. We have much more at stake and much more to live for than we could dare imagine.
You see, Natalie is much more alive than most could fathom. During her life, she had received life that transcends this life. She had been, and still is, connected to the Giver of all life because God had chosen Natalie to be His own dear daughter.
There are many, whose hearts are still beating, who are so busy living for today, who are already dead. They’re dead in sin. They lead lives of selfishness. Even though they may not see it, others who have life, can see how spiritual death affects the lives, choices, and relationships of those who don’t know God.
It often isn’t until someone physically dies, especially a peer, close friend or family member, that those who are spiritually dead stop to consider their lives. Sometimes they even come to terms with an emptiness they’d either never recognized or brushed aside.
Most people today live with, what I like to call, “illusions of immortality.” Few would dare dream that human beings will actually cure death. But just as damaging (and even damning for some) is the thought that we can postpone the inevitable, inevitably.
Some think they can exercise themselves into good health forever. Others think it possible to will themselves to be healthy. Some have supplement regimens that promise to stave off all manner of ill health. Still more live close enough to the hospital that the doctors will be able to fix whatever ails them when they become ill. There are even Christian preachers preaching such non-sense in the Name of Jesus!
Most are so focused on today that they never pause long enough to consider the future, let alone eternity. Thankfully, Natalie lived her life in light of eternity. She knew the love of God and life that only He can give. When she stumbled, He caught her. When she fell, He lifted her up. We hear the hope Natalie possessed expressed well by the prophet Isaiah:
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:29-31 ESV)
God proved, once and for all, that even death won’t take life from His children. When Jesus died on the cross, all sin was forgiven and heaven was opened to all who believe. We, who know God’s Son, and live in His love, will never die! By the power of His resurrection, we to will rise and live a new life!!
Natalie’s family takes great comfort in this fact. As her mother told me, “Natalie is happy, while we are sad. Natalie is healed.”
We don’t have to wait until our earthly life end’s to know the life that Christ can give. We have been given access to that life through faith, faith which God’s Holy Spirit gives. Eyes opened to eternity, we get to live now and forever!
Consider your life. In what have you placed your hope? From where does your strength come? Are you living in the hopes that you may not die? Or have you died in Christ, so that you may live?