last night i wept. and wept. and wept. for how long, i don't know. my husband's steady shoulder didn't keep the time as it soaked in the endless tears. streaming, on and on, from the limitless source of who-knows-where. and i didn't know why either. such sadness as i've hardly known before shook my body and poured from my lips and eyes, and i couldn't explain one shake or one tear or one moan. as i cried, part of my sadness flowed from the very thought that i shouldn't be so sad. no reason. yet, the weeping continued as i cried out, "Heaven would be so much better!" oh, how i longed for Heaven last night. how i longed to be there more than anywhere else in the world or out of it. but i still didn't know why. why was i so discontent with this world and my lot in it?
and then we heard the news. the news that sent our nation into an uproar of jubilation. and i couldn't believe my eyes, the same eyes that had just wept so bitterly. they were seeing the words plastered on the screen, immovable: Osama bin Laden is dead. shock ensued, but no joy. i admit, i felt some relief of justice served, some pride in my nation's actions to serve it. but deeper still in my heart, i felt the bitterness of death. though i can't see this man's heart, his actions suggest his forever separation from life, from love, from his Creator and Father. and people are happy about this, thinking his death might bring peace. but i know it won't. twenty-four hours later, it has only brought a morale boost tainted with the fear of retaliation.
knowing this bit of news didn't alleviate any pain in my heart, didn't bring any peace to my soul. my sigh still exhales, Heaven would be so much better. so much better. and then i finally realized why i wept: death. death itself. i long for Heaven because Heaven is life. there, no tear falls and no voice weeps because there, death has no place. and i realized Jesus wept about death too. the corrupted earth we inhabit exudes death, and God Himself was no more comforted over that reality than i was last night. peace seems so void, life so fleeting, hope so vain.
then, this evening, my eyes rested on new words. words from someone else who longed for Heaven the way i did last night: to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. but if i am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and i do not know which to choose. but i am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. convinced of this, i know that i will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith... for to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.
to die is gain... for me. but to live is Christ. Christ is life. the death of those who do not yet know Him saddens me beyond expression, but that's why i'm still alive. He has a purpose for this breath still in me: to encourage others to desire Him as i do. for progress and joy in the faith, He has destined me (and every other believer) to live today and perhaps tomorrow. this is suffering, this is why i wept last night: this conflict between desiring to be with Christ in Heaven and realizing my purpose on earth.
i weep still.