In John chapter 3, Jesus says that we must be born again. I’ve never really thought about comparing salvation to the birth process until today. As I type this, my Uncle David is lying in bed struggling to breathe. We don’t know how much time he has left, but it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be long.
I got to thinking about this. When a woman is very pregnant, as in, the baby is due anytime, people are excited. People are waiting in happy expectation for the baby to be born, to join the rest of the family here in the real world. But in order for the baby to join the rest of us here, the baby has to go through an uncomfortable and painful experience. But at the end of that tunnel there is a bright light and people that love you, who have been waiting for you to arrive. And then everybody is happy that the baby is finally here.
Compare that to the death of a loved one. When someone you love is dying, friends and family sit around wondering when he or she is going to die. They know that this person they love, who is a part of their life, is about to leave, and they will be subtracted from our lives. We aren’t able to talk to them or do things with them. They aren’t a part of our lives anymore. People who aren’t at the person’s bedside spend their time doing other things, but a part of them is always wondering: has he died yet and I just haven’t found out?
We are focused on how this person’s death will affect US. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. God knows we hurt. God understands that we are in pain because of this. That is why the only recorded time in Scripture that God cried was in John 11 when He saw the pain His friends felt when their brother Lazarus died. Every Sunday school kid knows the verse, because it’s the shortest verse in the Bible: John 11:35: “Jesus wept.” Such a simple statement, and so easy to memorize, but what does it really mean? Jesus, as God, KNEW for a fact that Lazarus was merely temporarily separated from his body. Jesus KNEW that Lazarus would be alive again in just a little while. Lazarus was only dead for four days. One time I took a trip that lasted about ten days, and I was over 2000 miles away from my wife the whole time. But not once did I cry about it. But Jesus wept. Why? Because He loved Mary and Martha, and He knew they were in pain. What is my point? God knows our pain, and it hurts Him too.
I love the song “Does Jesus Care?” The first verse asks the question “Does Jesus care when my heart is pained too deeply for mirth or song, as the burdens press, and the cares distress, and the way grows weary and long? The fourth verse asks these questions, and the chorus answers back:
Does Jesus care when I’ve said “goodbye”
To the dearest on earth to me,
And my sad heart aches till it nearly breaks—
Is it aught to Him? Does He see?
Oh, yes, He cares, I know He cares,
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,
I know my Savior cares.
But let’s look at death from the other side. We focus on our pain, but what is the dying person going through? Really, if they know Christ, what they are going through is only labor pains. They are about to be born again into a new world of light and life, surrounded by their loved ones who have been “born” in the same way before them. My Uncle David, since he knows Christ, is right now going through the pain of being born into Heaven. When the final contraction happens and he steps into heaven, he will be welcomed by his brother Danny, his father Don, and all the people he has loved who have died in Christ before him. But he will also be met by Jesus Christ, his Lord and Savior, who will greet him with open arms and dry his tears forever. My hope is that, as ornery as my Uncle David is, someone will smack him on the bottom just like a newborn baby.
I envy him. One day I will join him there. But this is his moment. His “second birth.” I’ll see you soon, Dave. Save me a seat.