This Life Only? Pity!

Sitting back after my readings this morning and wishing that Naomi could have read Paul.

Bitter, she said, call me bitter! ‘Cause that’s how the LORD has made me. I once was full, but thanks to Him, now I’m running on empty. The LORD has opposed me. He knew what I wanted out of life and He said no, and instead has afflicted me. Don’t call me Naomi anymore. Call me bitter. (Ruth 1:20-21)

A widow before she should have been. Childless when once she hadn’t been. A foreigner in a foreign place feeling like nothing more than a has been. Call me bitter, she says. Heavy sigh.

Camp on Naomi’s dashed dreams and misery, and you kind of get it. Imagine what she had imagined her life to be — a loving husband, two adored and adoring boys with two beautiful wives, grandkids someday, perhaps — and then imagine what it was like to see such hopes and dreams vanish. Nothing to show for leaving her family and giving herself to that man. Zilch for the years of toil, for the times of sacrifice, for being uprooted to a strange land. Nada after two long pregnancies, two hard deliveries, and raising two rambunctious boys. Empty, Naomi says. I’m empty.

But then I read Paul and this pops.

If we have put our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone.

(1Corinthians 15:19 CSB)

This life only. That’s what I’m chewing on this morning.

As God’s people, if it’s about this life only, we should be pitied. If this is the main event, how miserable. If the prize is to found in the present, “we’re a pretty sorry lot” (MSG).

If it’s about this life only, then bitter is all there is if it doesn’t get better. Unfulfilled and empty is all we’ll have when our expectations are unrealized and eradicated. If our hope for the good life rests solely in this life, then we are to be pitied.

But guess what, it isn’t about this life only. It’s not about our hopes and dreams here and now. It’s about a future hope and a coming day. A hope that for most of us will be realized by passing through death’s dark veil. A hope for life we can barely imagine this side of the grave. Eternal life. Life to the full. A life we get to sample now but are yet to realize fully.

Life found in Christ, the risen Son of God. Life found through Christ, the risen Savior of the world. Life found one day soon with Christ, the coming King of heaven.

Hope in this life only? Pity. This life only? How bitter.

But hope in a life yet to be fully experienced? Life promised in the Father’s faithful word? Life founded on the Son’s finished work? Life tasted even now, amidst the disappointment, through the Spirit’s faithful witness? Now that’s life!

Life by His grace. Life for His glory.

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