Happy 2023! Do you have plans? Goals? Dreams? I hope so! I hope you have come into a new year with new dreams and goals and a new energy to see this year as a year of endless possibilities.
I could write about how to pursue your dreams, or what this year might bring, but not today. Today I’m going to the other side. The dark side. You see… 2022 was incredibly good to me. I bought my own house, got divorced, had my first grandbaby, have another one due, I loved life and embraced the new me I have found along the way. I had the absolute best year I have probably had in my entire life. Not because there was an absence of problems, but because there was an underlying development of peace, joy and contentment in my life.
That’s great right! But then, there were my friends. So many of them seemed to struggle last year. I had one who lost her 31 year old brother to cancer, another friend who found out on his 59th birthday he had stage 4 bladder and stomach cancer, and another who after multiple mini strokes found out as he turned 60 that he had stage 3 lung cancer (never smoked in his life!). This was not ok. Nor was the fact these all happened within a week. My friend who turned 60 was the healthiest human I have known. He rode his bike regularly, watched his diet, had big plans for his looming retirement, and has so much to give. But short of a miracle, he probably won’t live to be a Grandad, or to travel the world in his retirement, or live a life of no work, and have time to enjoy the fruit of his labor over the years.
It seems so wrong. So unfair. My heart rages in battle against a life where we will lose people too soon, where hearts are ripped open because someone has to go through treatment with no ’cause’. Its easier when someone has say smoked all their life… we accept these things as consequences of their actions. But when you have been intentionally healthy? It reeks of injustice. It reeks with a stench that could invade the tiniest pore of our body.
It has also had me thinking. What are we entitled to? Are we entitled to a life of 70 years? Of 80? Are we entitled to die if we don’t abide by the unwritten laws of life and morality? Should our sins be punished by an early death? What about those who live a life completely devoid of morality and goodness, and seem to live till they are 100? Why do they get to live so long? What makes them deserve to live, and the good ones deserve to die? Where is God – and why doesn’t He give us all what we deserve? Kind of like karma really isn’t it. Live well… live long. Live selfishly… die young. Makes total sense.
Sadly, so often we see the opposite, and we don’t understand why. I’m not sure we will ever understand it this side of heaven. How we live, and how long we live is only somewhat under our control. There is an enemy out there. He seeks to steal, kill and destroy us. Sometimes this is emotionally, and sometimes physically. The world we live in is a fallen world. Since the sins of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden we have lived in a world that wages war against our soul.
The truth is that neither sickness nor death are usually a result of our sin. We will all die at some stage. All our days are numbered. So, do we get to number them? Or does God? If he has numbered them, can we change them? For example, if someone commits suicide then technically they don’t live out their days – but God knows what will happen beforehand, so are they still living to the number of days allotted to them? There is so much we don’t know. Trying to understand it can destroy our faith. And faith is exactly what it is. Trusting that God is there with us through all of life’s circumstances. Trusting he is there when we survive something we ‘shouldn’t’, or that he is there when someone is taken too soon.
There is never enough time. Not if we have 20 years, not if we have 80 years. But our humanity does make us feel entitled to live a life. A life marked by growing up, marrying, raising children, seeing our grandchildren grow. That is the ‘average’ way of thinking. Perhaps it is our thinking that needs to change? Perhaps we have to understand that we aren’t entitled to anything. Not to a long life, not to a perfect life, but that each day we live and breathe it is a gift to us from God. Daniel tells us that ‘He holds our breath in his hands’. Each day we get to live is a day we can live for Him. It’s a day we can find Him. It’s a day we can form a relationship with Him. It’s a day we can show Him to others.
The truth is that we have done nothing to be entitled to our days, but whether we receive a short amount of a long amount of days, they will all be like a vapor when it comes to eternity. The length of our days on earth will no longer matter, but the choices we make, the way we live out those days, and if we choose to accept the reality of God will definitely matter.
So, I wish us all a great 2023. For some of us it will be our last year. For some it will be the year their days start. For others it is going to be a tough one, and for some it will be a year filled with amazing things. Let’s not live life with an entitlement to the next day, but rather be fully present in THIS day, and live a life of legacy for those who walk after us.