The End is Just the Beginning

Arguably the two most significant life events are birth and death. Coming into the world and heading into the next. We generally tend to celebrate births and mourn deaths. Despite varying birth stories, life is predictable for the most part. Death is often shocking and ugly, and we can’t control or predict it.

We would rather say hello than goodbye.

Perhaps the greatest mystery of death is why it happens to some before others. Why some die young and why some live to be 105. We question because we can’t control it. We don’t like it because we can’t make it “fair”. I’ve never heard anyone ask, “Why on earth would God bring that baby into the world healthy?” We expect it…perhaps we feel entitled? The answer to that question, were it ever asked, would be because God is kind.

That’s the same answer for why God would take someone out of this world.

At any point, whether deemed prematurely or at a ripe old age, God is kind to take them. And when someone is born unhealthy? God is kind then, too. Kind to give life to someone that would otherwise never experience it. He is kind to perpetuate the human race despite our utter atrocities and failure at stewarding this gift well. When we shake our fist at God and ask Him why there is heartache, the irony is that the heartache of the human race’s rejection of God has already once in history been so great that He destroyed almost all of humanity.

He was too gracious to watch them destroy themselves with their sinful ways and wreak havoc on themselves and others. Killing them was their saving grace. You see, when He gives and when He takes… He has never been anything other than kind. For those who subscribe to the damnation and brimstone theory of God, I hear your protests. God is not only love, yes. He is also just. But I believe that even in His judgment, He is kind. He could have blotted Sodom and Gomorrah from the planet before they even had the chance to blow it. And yet He created them anyway. He made Judas, and then chose Him as His disciple, knowing his knack for dipping his hands in the money bags and his ultimate act of betrayal. He chose him anyway. Birth abnormalities, infant death, cancer…they are heartbreaking. But He creates life anyway.

Life is HARD, people. Especially when we are simply at its mercy. But we are at the mercy of a God who can control it, and He is just that…merciful. Even that very last breath we took was a grace.

And my Aunt Gina’s last breath was a grace, too.

You see, the journey had been long. The pain and sensitivity from the brain tumor had been unpredictable at times. In her last week, her quality of life was unbearable to watch. But she would never say that He was not gracious. He gave her three more years of life after her first surgery. She said He didn’t have to do that.

Would He have been more gracious not to let her even be born? So as to not experience any pain in this life? So that dying early wouldn’t have been a factor? So we wouldn’t be grieving now?

You can only grieve what was once beautiful.

To say that God would have been more gracious in refusing her life on earth would be a slap in the face to anyone who has loved Gina. There was beauty to behold in her life and even her death was beautiful. The death of His saints is a beautiful thing (Psalm 116:15). God’s calling Gina Home was the most generous. She is with Him, and that is a joy greater than any other joy that Gina would have ever experienced in this life.

There has been sorrow in this life, yes. One sorrow that Gina experienced was the Lord calling Home someone she dearly loved. Her daughter, Bethany, is no longer with us. We have never questioned where she is. Gina is with her now. But perhaps one of her greatest earthly joys was the birth of her granddaughter. Thanks to the Lord’s graciousness, He allowed the first surgery to be successful. He prolonged her days so that she could enjoy almost a full year with Akira.

My daughter was born 28 days before Gina passed away. There has been a lot of joy and sadness mixed into the last 4 weeks. It was hard to watch, pray, and wait as we anticipated Eden’s arrival into the world, wondering if she would be a healthy baby, a girl or a boy, and whether she would be {whatever we would deem} normal. It was also hard to watch, pray, and wait as we knew Gina’s time was coming to exit this world, wondering how long we would have her, how she would go, and if we would be ready to say goodbye.

But isn’t that really all we do in this life anyway? Watch, pray, and wait? We operate as if we have so much control over life when, in actuality, we have none. We can schedule and plan and prepare. However, many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails (Proverbs 19:21). Right now, my baby girl is healthy and happy and alive. This is grace. But one of these days, she will breathe her last here and breathe her first in heaven.

This is the utmost grace.

Eden and Akira were both promised death at birth. Health may or may not be promised. Happiness may or may not be promised. Long life may or may not be promised.

But they have access to the same Father that Gina did.

And I promise you that He is a good, good Father.

That makes me smile.