Death and serious illness have a way of leading people back to some fundamental questions: Why am I here? What’s the purpose of it all? Amidst suffering and death, we may look to our lives or to the lives of our loved ones for meaning. The problem with such pursuits is that we are focused back on ourselves. There is no lasting meaning found there. Any “good” deeds remembered can bring with them as many or more “bad” deeds to cancel them out. The works of our own hands are not sufficient for comfort.
As St. Paul says, “Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God…” (2 Corinthians 3:5, English Standard Version)This sufficiency comes not from a God who is far off, a God who we must work to find, no, the Christian God came to dwell among us.
In Jesus Christ, God gives meaning to our life as Jesus lived it – womb to tomb – while experiencing everything we experience. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15, ESV) Jesus bore our diseases (Matthew 8:17), He faced death head-on and is victorious (Romans 6:9), and through our Lord Jesus we, too, share in His victory (1 Corinthians 15:57)!
We don’t always know why things happen. Sometimes life gives us questions for which there are no answers. Faith drives us back to God. The Lord told St. Paul “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” “Therefore,” Paul continues, “I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me… For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
Looking to our own lives for answers can many times raise even more questions. Looking to God’s Word for answers points us back to Jesus – to His cross and Resurrection – every time. As redeemed children of God, He gives to us new meaning and new life – even in the midst of weakness and suffering. Illness and death loom over us, but the Resurrection of Christ awaits us.
Jesus suffered many pains and burdens, but He was raised to new life. In Him we share in suffering, but also in eternal life with Him and our loved ones. Through God’s Word, in Jesus, we find all the meaning we need: meaning during life, meaning in the face of disease and death, and meaning for the life to come.