The day after Thanksgiving I sat with my Nana in her room on a warmer than normal November day. Our family knew that week that my Nana's body was beginning to let go, and to show signs that the end was near. I sat with my sweet, poised and intelligent Nana, speaking to her, telling her stories, reading the book of John. It was deeply sorrowful, but also peaceful in her room. I sat, and I thought of eternity.
In my view there are two things that humans universally struggle with: ONE: their own finite being, and TWO: their validation and significance in life. We struggle with death. And we struggle with love.
Death is something 21st century Americans try to avoid. We feign youth - warding off wrinkles with cremes, putting in hours at the gym, eating our way into immortality with the latest fad. We idolize the young and ignore the elderly. We rarely talk about what comes after death. We pretend to be immune. We struggle with dying.
We struggle with love.
Our world distorts love. Love in society comes at a cost, and is easily lost. Love is earned here: if you are attractive enough, talented enough, savvy enough. Love is equated with tolerance. Love is a slogan for political campaigns. Love is a bumper sticker that declares devotion to a ski slope, a burger, a dog, a taco joint. Our hearts, whether consciously or not shudder under the lack of REAL LOVE. We want it. We own it not.
According to scripture, we struggle with these two experiences, because they were the catastrophic consequences of the fall. In one ill-fated moment, a decision was made, an apple was eaten, and the world fractured. The significance we felt in the presence of God was replaced with insecurity and shame. The immortality we experienced with our Creator was stolen, and in its place came mortality.
If you are disturbed by the world today. If you are haunted by the thought of people dying, of your own mortality, of the lack of gentleness and love in the world... It's not just the media, terrorism or politics that are the cause. It's Genesis and the fall.
It destroyed perfect unionized love. It killed off security. It brought forth death.
As I sat in my Nana's room, the weight of the fall pushed on my chest. Her body giving way. Her breath slowing. I loathe death, I thought. And I cried. It was in those moment, though, that I realized ben more that Jesus is our only hope. He is the only chance we have to satisfy our struggle. Our struggle with death is satisfied in his resurrection. Our struggle with love is quenched in his acceptance and adoption of us. Our mortality is exchanged for immortality in Christ. The grave lost it's power. Death lost it's sting. Shame was met with unfettered grace and care.
There is a song by Hillsong United that years ago was my favorite, and has made it's way into my playlists again. Where the Love Lasts Forever sings these lines with adoration:
I throw my life upon all that you are
Because I know you gave it all for me,
When all else fades my soul will dance with you,
Where the love lasts forever
If your struggle today is with humanity, hate, death or despair: Take Heart. There is a savior who offers you relief for all that burdens you today. His heaven is more real than we know. Our eternity is secure, if only we would call on him. His offer of love and life the only offer you will ever need. The struggle is real. But so is Jesus.