Saturday, April 13, 2013

Bittersweet Sixteen

I’ve never been a fan of April. I would be okay if March jumped right into May. Eleven months is enough for the year, right?

I can always feel it in the back of my mind whenever April is approaching. Like most students dread going back to school after a break, I dread the start of April. But I know that as sure as spring follows winter, April will once again find its way onto the front page of the calendar.

I guess I can’t blame the entire month. It’s really just one offending day that’s the problem. Maybe if April 12th could somehow morph into April 14th, I could accept the month again with all the others. But for the past sixteen years, this has yet to happen. And because it never will, I must continue to face the reality of this day.

Today, sixteen years ago, cancer won the battle it waged against my dad.

I was just a little girl. I didn’t understand. Couldn’t understand. But over the years, I was forced to understand. My dad was no longer there for me to jump into his lap and read him stories. He was not there to stare down the boys who came to my house or to cheer embarrassingly at my graduations. He was not there to bid me farewell at the airport when I left for Kenya and he won't be there to greet me when I return. And today I am reminded that another year has passed without him in my life.

And I can focus on this. Or I can focus on the years he was in my life. The times he made me laugh. The times he wiped my tears. The times when he showed me just how much he loved me. Sorry for all of you and your luck, but I had the best dad in the world.

At our Good Friday service just two weeks ago, the pastor posed the following questions:
Can death bring joy?
Can death bring hope?
Can death bring peace?

Certainly not the death of my father. His absence in my life has never brought me joy, hope, or peace. Far from it. And if you’ve ever lost a loved one, you know that man’s death cannot bring these things.

But there was once a day when someone’s death was different than anyone else’s in all of history. And his death brought joy. His death brought hope. His death brought peace.

When Jesus hung on the cross dying, he satisfied God’s judgment on all of mankind’s sin. In doing so, he brought peace between God and man. He brought hope for a life greater than this. He brought joy even amidst pain and brokenness.

I know that life does not end when a heart stops beating. God promises that those who trust in and follow Him will spend eternity with Him in Heaven. That we will be reunited with our loved ones. That when we are with Him, it will be impossible for death to reign.

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” [Revelation 21:4]

I miss my daddy more than anything. Having joy doesn’t eliminate the pain. I long for the day when disease and tragedy and illness will no longer rip us away from our loved ones. We were not made for this broken existence. But we know that this is not all there is. We were made to be with Him.

So today, on April 13th, I am choosing to cling to joy. To hope. To peace. To Him.

“Light for my darkness,
Peace for my soul,
You are my rescue,
You never let go.

All my hope is in You,
All my strength is in You,
With every breath,
My soul will rest in You.”