Saturday, April 4, 2015
“They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.” ― Tom Bodett
If what Mr. Bodett wrote in the quote above is true, then there should be no unhappy Christians for every authentic Christian has Christ to love, Christ’s commandments to love and care for others to do, and the promise of eternal happiness and peace awaiting each of us at the close of our days when we close our eyes for the final time. Many of us also have someone we love beside us to share our sorrows and joys, to provide us with the comfort of a touch, a smile, a shared secret. I have been blessed to know the love of the woman I have lived with for almost fifty years now and the love of three sons, two daughters-in-law, and three grandchildren, but I was happy when I was in my twenties and there was just Karen with whom to share my world because I have always had the three things listed above. I believe Tom Bodett has his finger on the pulse of joy, not that anyone lives a life of only happiness. We each have sorrows and pain that can shake the foundations of our faith, but because of what we celebrate tomorrow, shaking is all that happens, the foundation of our faith does not collapse but holds firm no matter what life may throw at it. I have often heard that the loss of a child is the worst thing that can happen to a parent. I can’t say with any certainty that this is true since I have never felt it. However, I have been very close to others who have, some who survived it and went on to live a happy life and others who allowed it to overwhelm them and they surrendered to their grief and stopped living, only wallowing in their grief for years. When I was a pastor in Gravette, Arkansas, a teenager died every year in traffic accidents, a statistic I hope has changed. One such young person who died so tragically had a mother whose world collapsed and one winter night, dressed only in her nightgown, she laid down on her child’s grave and waited for the cold and rain to take her life. It was a very, very sad thing. Yet there was another young man the very next year whose death marked a change for the good in almost everyone who knew him. He didn’t die immediately, but lay in a coma for almost a week. When the doctors told the mother he wouldn’t live, she held one of his hands while I held the other. She reached over and held my hand as well, then nodded to the doctor and he turned off the machines keeping her son alive. It was one of the hardest, saddest, and most incredible moments in my life, and I will carry it with me to my own death and perhaps beyond. That mother joined support groups and helped other mothers bear the burden that should never be borne. She became the youth leader at her church and brightened the hearts of lives of many, many young people. She worked with her pastor and helped establish a scholarship in her son’s name that is still one of the most prized at the high school he attended and from which my son, John, was an honor graduate. She has never forgotten the wounds she suffered, but she worked past her private pain and brought and is still bringing joy to others. She turned her inner grief into the joy of working for others and bringing them the last thing in the list above—something to hope for. God bless you, Cheryl. She truly understands the power of Easter. I pray that each of you feels that power this Sunday as you worship He who gave His all that we might live and love and know happiness.