Monday, August 18, 2008

Why Did God Ever Create Old Age? (Part 1)

My grandmother isn't doing well. She's been through much suffering, in and out of sicknesses, with short lulls in the storms. She fell down last week(again), broke some bones and things have been going down hill from there. I took my bike and went to visit her today. I took my French Bible along so that I could read some passages to her. She loves that and it also calms her down to talk about God.

I read two passages. Psalm 63 first, followed by Philippians 1 & 2. I was reading the passage for several reasons: the great emphasis on joy in suffering, dying well and what Jesus himself went through for our sins on the cross. I nearly cried when I read Philippians 1v21, despite the fact that I was reading in part for that verse. It reads: "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."
I'm a young man, in the prime of my youth. I take passages like these as beautiful and poignant credos. Here is a motto that a young Christian can build his life on. For it is true that while I live, I live to glorify Christ, but to die is greater still, because it means I'll be with Christ. As a young guy who's been saved by the grace of God, a verse like that is direction for my life. It gives purpose to my every breath.
I came to know Christ through the death of a 17 year-old, when I was only 17. As a young man, verses such as Philippians 1v21 serve as a reminder that my life is short and God may shorten it still by killing me today. But reading such a passage to your 75-year old grandmother who has gone through so much suffering, is a different matter altogether.

Who am I to read such a verse? Yes God speaks through His word, but to deliberately choose such a passage, I felt was wrong. But it led me to question my thoughts. Do I believe that death is gain? Yes, indeed I do, at least in theory. Do I believe that my grandmother knows, loves and is saved by Jesus? Yes, if there is anyone in this country saved, she is. So why do I find it distasteful to read a verse about dying?
Perhaps its because I know nothing of suffering and she's known nothing but suffering? It's true that I recognize myself unfit to speak to a woman like my grandmother about suffering. Yes I believe that a Christian is called to suffer well, but I've never been asked to do so. I've never known a sacrifice, never known a suffering!
Perhaps I feel guilty to be telling my grandmother that death is gain? First, this is awkward because I'm speaking about death. When you're talking with a guy your age, this is not a problem, but when you are in conversation with a dying woman, you cannot just blurt out: "You're dying!" Secondly, I feel it wrong to be reminding her of something I know nothing about. She's probably been near death more times than I've been alive years.

(Photo by Jiamin Choo, in PNG)

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