Grateful for Life

This year marks 20 years.

For so many this week is about remembering those thousands of lives lost on 9/11. The day this news hit, my family was already in a terrible shock, having just learned the day before of my father’s suicide.

Suicide is blinding. Suicide is contagious. Suicide is a transfer of pain in unimaginable ways for years far beyond the time of death.

If you have had a close family member die (in any manner), you know how devastating death may be. There is a strange comfort found in connecting with other “survivors.” Sadly, suicide makes this connection nearly impossible.

It’s a taboo conversation. When discussed, rarely are the interpretations of the event, the cause, and the aftermath the same. It isolates those left behind. Suicide breeds secrecy, gossip, judgment, and paranoia.

But with Christ, I am set free of these afflictions. With Christ, I am set free of this pain. Through Christ, I am given a heavenly Father. Through Christ, I am able to drop the hate and sadness I held onto and trade them with a purpose. His purpose.

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 

Philippians 1:21

The first chapter of Philippians is a beautiful account of Paul’s determination to spread the gospel, even in jail. Behind bars, he finds joy in his circumstance as it has only encouraged others in their faith. Paul also addresses conflicting feelings commonly held by Christians: the desire to fulfill his life purpose for Jesus vs the desire to be with Jesus in heaven.

This is such a contrast to the life I once knew. Before salvation, I thought of life as a painful game with relative rules. I believed it to be suffering for nothing leading to a death of nothing. My own father had chosen to die rather than be my father, rather than deal with any life at all. What could I possibly hope for if this was my model?

Paul paints a different picture. Even in suffering, he finds great joy in serving Jesus.

as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.

Philippians 1:20

Praise! What an amazing view of life and death! Only with Jesus are we able to live in such a way. Only with Jesus are we blessed if poor in spirit, blessed in times of mourning, and blessed when we hunger for righteousness (Matthew 5:3-6). Contrastingly, only with Jesus can we rest knowing our death is a glorious union with the Maker.

Certainly a life in Christ is always worth living.

I praise the One Almighty who made me! Thank you for this opportunity to live for You. For this opportunity to know You and praise You, Oh Lord. May I never take for granted again any life. May those who meet me see a love for God’s people, a compassion for this world, and a desire to be Christ-like. Amen

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