Ice Chips and Suffering

Suffering is an interesting beast.  For one who has no real hope in the resurrection of Jesus Christ there is, at best, a vague hope.  If you are religious generally your hope of something beyond this life centers of enough effort put forth on your part, but never any guarantee that it will be sufficient; to a more Eastern approach of being absorbed into the Everything or the Nothing. Not particularly satisfying it would seem but it is something, I guess.

For the masses of people who hold to an evolutionary model of reality the greatest that they hope for is that after death there is nothing at all.  For there was, and is, no reason for them to even exist other than the machinations of some sort of natural selection that is utterly arbitrary and purposeless.  What is sad is that most who fall into this group never even think through to the natural end of their sense of reality.

When I am in the hospital for my pancreatitis the first order of the day is complete loss of any intake of fluids or food by the mouth.  After a few days my mouth is dry beyond description and I long for some relief.  Eventually the Dr. allows me to have ice chips.  One would think that this would represent little to an American male living is such comfort and wealth.  But that would be wrong on every level.  The first moment that an ice chip touches my lips and the coolness of its melting liquid trickles down my throat is pure ecstasy.

I have watch a few people die who have no hope and I see a close connection between my experience and theirs.  As their body slowly descends into the clutches of death their joy and their hope begins to change.  They learn to lower their expectations.  Whereas once they expected the pleasure of any food they wanted, now they are happy when they can have something other than soft, bland foods.  Eventually they are just happy to feel the coolness of the ice chip in their mouth.  And then, because their hope is in this world, they are happy just to feel death.  At least some of them.

But for the Christian this cannot be true.  If they are properly trained in the gospel they know that there is something eternally valuable beyond death.  They know that Jesus Christ has destroyed the power of sin and the eternal death that sin brings.  They know that by God’s grace through faith in Jesus that they shall never taste that eternal death.  Rather, in God’s perfect timing, they shall be raised in a moment, body and soul perfectly reunited, to a new and perfect world where life become new and proper in ways that “new” and “proper” can never mean right now.

So for them, the ice chips are glorious reminders that even as their body suffers and fails them, that it is a glimpse of the eternal joy that is to come.  At least, that is what I think the first time the chip touches my tongue.

 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18)

About Matt Henry

Middle-aged pastor trying to figure out how to be missional in his world. Loves his wife, his children, and his dog Bear. I have a love of woodworking even though woodworking doesn't always love me. The name is xagete but is pronounced exegete.

Posted on January 29, 2013, in What Tickles My Fancy. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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