It’s hard to explain what it was like to be part of Camp Braveheart this year, a camp that Riva’s mom started for kids who have lost loved ones. Often overlooked in the wake of a family member’s death, 64 campers showed up to grieve their loved ones (some for the first time) and share them with a group of people who were truly interested in getting to know them even after they’re gone.
Their wedding day. The day they win the big tournament. The birth of their first child. All of these incredibly happy events will always be tainted by the knowledge that their loved one is not there to enjoy it, making grief a lifelong journey. It’s not that they are sad all the time. It’s not even that these kids think about their loved ones every day. It’s just that no one can truly understand what it’s like to grow up having lost a parent or sibling, and most people they meet won’t ever ask.
Why did God let it happen? What’s He up to in all of this? How can He be truly loving and sovereign at the same time? These are questions all of them were wrestling with and will continue to wrestle with, because ultimately we won’t get an answer this side of heaven. Their only consolation is that we have a God who is not distant, but hung on a cross for us, sharing in our sorrow and suffering, and ultimately defeating death by his resurrection. They’ll have to cling daily to these realities – cross and tomb – if they’re going to be able to live with life’s unanswered questions.
But isn’t that the challenge for all of us? What if we embraced the fact that life was short and full of suffering? What if our hope was really set on the new heavens and earth instead of numbing ourselves with the pleasures of this world? What if each day we lived as if we were dying? What if we took up our place among alongside the people of God and truly lived as the family of God instead of functioning like an organization. What if we were daily comforting one another with this reality beyond what we can see? What if together we made it our life’s mission to display and declare this hope to the world around us? What if we really spent our lives on things that matter, consumed by a passion to spotlight the only One who can truly offer hope and life beyond the grave?
The tedium of language study might be more bearable for me. I’d hide less and engage more, despite the energy it would consume to do so. I’d risk and fail without being devastated because my life was about something greater than my reputation.
I bet we’d love to invite people into our churches because of the community of hope and healing that would flow out from this eternal focus. We’d waste less time and money on things that don’t matter, and allow eternal security to overshadow the turbulence of daily life. I wonder if more of us regular people might become missionaries and more of us regular missionaries might become extraordinary ones? Maybe we’d pray more? Maybe we’d give more?
I don’t know what it would look like, but I want to believe it and live out of it because it’s true. God died. God rose. And he did it for us. This world is not all there is. Now that’s good news!