Life Before Death


I listened as a Christian friend exchanged the usual pleasantries with a friend he hadn’t seen in several years and probably wouldn’t for several more. They offered updates on family, pets, jobs, churches, and health. Then the first friend decided to get real.

"I’ve always believed in life after death," he said. "But I’m wondering about life before death. Is this all there is?"

The second friend promised to pray for him and asked for details, which spilled out like rice from a leaky sack. He was dissatisfied with his job—and, like many others, worried about whether it would continue. He was also depressed and taking medication. His marriage seemed to be going all right. Their church was solid. Still, the question rang in the second friend’s ears: "Is this all there is?"

Having turned forty-three today, I have given myself the opportunity to reflect a bit on the question of life’s purpose. It was, after all, this particular question that was the occasion of my conversion over twenty years ago. Since then I have observed the vast difference between those who have embraced their purpose in Christ and those who have not, a difference that is crucial.

Still, we must recognize that being a Christian is no bulwark against occasions of spiritual restlessness. Even those of us who seek to regularly read and study Scripture, engage in gospel witness, and participate in the life of the church will sometimes struggle. Moments of boredom, dryness, and unanswered prayer are natural parts of human experience.

This sort of restlessness, however, is not the norm in the Christian life. The Lord Jesus promised abundant life (John 10:10)—not just in the sweet bye and bye, but in the here and now. That makes sense, because eternal life is all about knowing the person of Christ (John 17:3), and this relationship starts as soon as we receive him as Savior and Lord. Remember the testimony of the apostle Paul, who, despite all his persecutions, could say without irony, "For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ" (2 Cor. 1:5). That is a key word . . . abundance.

So if you are feeling down, depressed, or dry in your spiritual life, don’t give up, and don’t despair. There is hope. How could there not be, with Christ risen from the dead?

Here’s a gentle suggestion: Throw yourself into the work of the gospel, knowing that you do not labor in vain (1 Cor 15:58). Find God’s calling and pursue it at all costs. Nothing is more exciting. I can’t guarantee that your problems will vanish. Just the opposite may happen (2 Tim 3:12). But I can promise a sense of meaning that transcends this life to supply each day with eternal purpose.

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