When someone you've known passes away, a little piece of your life is removed. A void replaces a relationship you once had. As I reflect on the life of my Uncle David, I'm feeling both thankful and sad. Thankful knowing that he doesn't have to suffer any more. Sad, knowing that I'll never see him again on this side of heaven.
The Good News - and there is Good News - is that when someone dies whose a follower of Christ, our hope overshadows our sorrow. Our belief in a new life and a new body overrides our feelings of grief and sadness. Yes, we grieve, but our grief is mixed with hope. This is how I feel about David. Despite having Down Syndrome, David lived a life that many of us would be envious of. His was a simple life. The littlest things could make him happy. Whether it was sitting in his room listening to music or watching reruns of his favorite TV program, David experienced joy on a level that many of us probably never do. Our lives, unfortunately, are much more complicated and this is mostly our fault. We've filled our lives with too many things and the result is a life of anxiety and complexity that tends to steal the joy right underneath from us.
David, despite his failing health, still found a way to experience joy. He still found a way to smile even when it was quite obvious that he was feeling pretty horrible. He still found a way to make us smile as he recently did just last week-leading us in the singing of Happy Birthday in celebration of my Grandpa's 90th birthday party.
Well, today I can smile as I think of his life because I know I'll see him again. I know where he's going because I know how he lived his life. Thanks to my grandparents, David grew up in a home that loved Jesus. He grew up in an environment that allowed him to learn at his own pace. And because of this, David can sing the Hymns with the best of them.
As I walked out of his hospital room door yesterday afternoon, I said to David: "Good bye, man. See ya later." At first I felt kind of foolish doing this but now I realized that what I was saying to him was the absolute truth. I will see him later. And when I do, while David won't have the same body, what he will have is the same joy and the same smile and I'm confident he'll be singing something.
This is the hope I have this Christmas season. Knowing that because Jesus came down to us and for us, the future is most certainly a bright one.