A college friend of mine had leukemia a few years ago. Recently, a far more aggressive version of cancer returned. Her body was wracked with tumors eating at her liver and chipping away at her pelvic bone. She was only thirty years old and had been married just a couple of years. The doctor advised her that additional chemotherapy would only diminish the quality of her remaining days while not effectively extending her life. His advice? Manage the pain and make the most of the time you have left. Which was only about two weeks. Yesterday, she passed away.
What do you do when you hear news like that? My first thought is always deep sorrow for the grieving family. But I am inevitably compelled to reflect on my own life as well, and for a few precious moments, I am granted piercing insight into what really matters and how much God has given me. Why are we so programmed for discontentment? We are constantly focused on what we don’t have and what we don’t like. We overlook the most ordinary blessings. I woke up this morning able to breathe, able to walk and talk, able to hear and smell and see. I have no physical deformity or intellectual disability. Yet because we experience these blessings daily and constantly, we never see them until someone forces us to see them. Instead we are eaten up with envy, choosing to focus on other people’s blessings and asking God why we don’t have those things. Have you ever asked God why He gave you eyes? Have you ever questioned your ability to breathe on your own? Have you ever railed against divine unfairness because you can get around without a wheelchair and other people can’t? Of course not. Because we think we’re entitled to those things, and we start feeling entitled to others as well–God ought to give us a spouse, a home, a good job, children, etc. If He doesn’t, that’s when we start asking the questions. God, why did you give a baby to that woman who aborted it instead of giving one to me? But these questions are not only fruitless, they are destructive to our Christian walk. They can chip away at our faith and tarnish our love for a God who has given us all things in Christ. We forget that the greatest gift, in fact, the only gift that matters, has already been given to us in Christ: the gift of salvation.
My friend Amy is dancing with Jesus today. She’s not in pain any more. Her life was a testimony to His faithfulness, and He set her free: first spiritually, then physically. Praise God for His goodness in her life. And thank you, Amy for giving me one last gift in your death: the gift of perspective.