Have you heard the new Regina Spektor song, 'Laughing With'? I've heard it a bit on the radio, but really only listened properly this morning on the NPR All Songs Considered Podcast.
The lyrics are really poignant. Here's the first verse:
No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one's laughing at God when they're starving
Or freezing or so very poor
This really struck me. Last week when I was thousands of kilometres away from home on holiday, my Dad was admitted to hospital with inflamed lungs. He'd had an allergic reaction to one of the drugs he's on for his cancer. When they first saw him, they weren't sure if it was secondary cancer in the lung region causing the problem, or a bad case of pneumonia. In the end it was an allergic reaction.
The last week has been hard. It turns out Dad does have secondaries, in his ribs. Because he's allergic to the drugs he was on, he's facing a new drug, and most likely chemo. There is no cure for the cancer he has, and there is no guarantee anything will keep him alive for a great length of time. It's all educated guessing on behalf of the specialists.
When Mum rang me to tell me Dad was in hospital, I was so sad. Sad because in that moment, death was staring me down. And that's where Regina's song hits - "No one laughs at God when the doctor calls after some routine tests".
We tend to suppress the idea of death, and put on a self-assured arrogance most days, thinking we can control our lives and be our own gods. Dad's downwards spiral reminded me again that it is God who gives us the breath of life, and he who takes it away. You can't laugh at God when death is staring you down.
Dad's not a Christian, and I don't write this in a pious attempt at tut-tutting people who don't believe in God, in the same way that Regina's song doesn't (far from it!). But it's worth saying that waiting until you're on your deathbed before you think about the meaning of life seems kind of silly. God loves us and he wants us to take off our plastic crowns, to remember we're not in control of our lives, and to acknowledge him as the one from whom all life comes.
Because of my faith in Jesus' death on my behalf, I have an amazing hope of life beyond this transient existence, one where there will be no tears, no suffering, no selfish me.
These verses from the bible are probably my favourite, when I think of the hope that God holds out to those who trust in him:
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Cor 4: 16 - 18
So it's been a big week, with quite a bit of introspection. But I know that my heavenly father is good, and he is above me and my earthly father, above everything in this world. And my hope is sure because Jesus died for me, and it's sure for all who recognise their need for salvation before God.
So, uncharacteristically for this blog, I'm telling y'all to think a bit about these things, and maybe read some more about Jesus. This is a good summary of what the Christian faith is all about. Don't wait till death is staring you down.