I love this picture because of the cycle of life that it shows. There are the blackened trees that were burned in a forest fire. There is the vibrancy of the fall foliage that will soon be carpeting the ground below. In the midst of this death and near death, there is the life of the evergreen trees.
When life seems really hard, as it does in these days, we can forget that God gives us something to celebrate in all the stages of our lives. Some days we can forget that these days will pass and something new will come, something worth celebrating.
It’s easy to celebrate a new life, we find joy in that newness and the promise that that new life holds. New life is precious. Who doesn’t smile at the antics of a kitten or a puppy or a human baby discovering what this big new world they find themselves in is all about? And is there any sound that can compare to the uninhibited laughter of a child?
In a mature life we find the joy of memories and, at a certain age, a sort of pride of living – of surviving that long. My dad approached complete strangers for at least six months before his 100th birthday and asked, “How old do you think I will be on my next birthday?” Of course no one ever guessed correctly and I’m not sure which delighted him more – their guess of a younger age or his being able to tell them what the next birthday would bring.
Death is harder to celebrate because we are sad that our loved one is gone. We look back to the special memories, but the future looks bleak and empty with the changes we have encountered in our life. Saying goodbye to someone we love is painful. Even when that someone has been terribly ill or hurting in some way it’s painful. But even there we can celebrate that our loved one is now living in a reality that we are promised we will too – someday – fully in the presence of God – where there is no more pain, no more tears are shed.
It helps too to remember that God brought life out of death. Just as the trees come up green and fresh and full of life in an area devastated by a fire, so too our souls will come back green and fresh and full of life when our hearts have been devastated by the passing of a loved one. Of course we won’t be exactly the same. Nothing will be exactly the same. But it will be good again one day because we live in the certain hope that there will be tomorrow. And the God who is with us today will be with us tomorrow too.
Being a beloved child of God doesn’t mean there won’t be pain for us. What it does mean is that we don’t go through the pain of this life on our own. No matter how bad it is we can lean on God’s strength. It is God’s strength that gets us through the darkness of the night into the light of the day – even when it’s a very long night – especially when it’s a very long night. Morning will come. God has promised. And THAT is something worth celebrating!
Let us pray...
Lord, help us remember to celebrate every day that we are your beloved children. Amen