Yesterday, I read a very heartbreaking update from my college pastor whose 3-year-old daughter battling neuroblastoma and cancer that has metastasized all over her body in the last year and a half is facing her final days. My heart broke to receive the worse news about this little girl after a chain of updates this summer that no longer carried any good news. Please pray for Emily and her family during this difficult time. https://www.facebook.com/emilytaylorchoi
This reminded me of a truth that I have learned time and time again, that life is short.
For some odd reason, when I was younger, probably sometime in high school, I couldn’t see myself living in my 20s. And now that I am 26, turning 27 a week from today, I find it miraculous that I have made it this far. I know that sounds weird, but I’m neither suicidal nor trying to be morbid. I believe that each day has been a God-given gift, which I often remind myself of first thing in the morning when I wake up breathing and praying, “Dear God, thank you for this day.”
6 years ago this October, my dad passed away when I was 21 after a 3-year battle with cancer. “Heaven is a better place,” people say. But do they mean that or do they just say that because that supposedly comforts those who have lost their loved ones? Non-Christians say it, but what is heaven without God? And Christians believe in God, but do we truly believe it in our hearts that heaven is better than all the riches, success, joys, pleasures, family, and friends we have on earth? Do we look forward to heaven with eager anticipation to be with God for eternity?
“The critical question for our generation—and for every generation— is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ were not there?” –John Piper
For me, those words, “Heaven is a better place,” have brought a deep sense of comfort and peace that I know only God has given me to cope with losing my dad at a young age. This brings me to cherish the oh so sweet promises of God given to us in the Bible about heaven:
3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” –Revelation 21:3-4
15 “Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. 16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. 17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” –Revelation 7:15-17
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. –1 Peter 1:3-5
16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. –2 Corinthians 4:16-18
After having the summer of my life with a 2-month vacation in Hong Kong and SoCal which was decided less than a month before my trip (see my previous post), I have a newfound sense of confidence to live life to the fullest. Climb the tallest crag at Seven Star Crags in China on a super hot day? Sure, I’m not getting younger the next time I come back. Go to Comic-con all by myself even though I know nothing on TV and comics? Of course, at least once in a lifetime! Watch USA Basketball vs. China play a friendly game before the Rio Olympics? Definitely, when will I get this opportunity again? It’s not so much about checking things off my bucket list or living spontaneously, but about living life with joy, thanksgiving, and faithfulness.
At the same time, I come home to face reality – shootings, pain, sickness, cancer, death. Many of my friends have far greater problems than I do. I won’t go into their details, but I will journey with them in prayer and support through these times as many were there for me with my dad. It is humbling to be reminded that life is short, I have nothing to complain about, Christ is my all in all, and I have heaven to look forward to, so I can sing, “It is well with my soul.”
I leave you with my favorite verse that helped me through my dad’s sickness and passing:
12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. –Romans 12:12
(Before publishing this post today, I realized I had already written a post “Life is Short” back in 2013, which means God is teaching me this same truth because I need it again…)