Because He Lives

By Charlotte Qu | Assistant Professor of Accounting

It was the night before Easter Sunday. My quiet time with God, after tucking my 2.5-year-old daughter into bed, turned into a state of deep grief and sorrow. This was not new, as it had happened numerous times before, ever since my father’s passing last June. But this time, something was different. Besides the feeling of grief (which had more or less become my new best friend), there was also a sense of guilt. As I watched Maggie sleeping, her little chest rising and falling slowly with steady breathing, I couldn’t stop asking myself this question: “Why did I bring her into this world? This world with so much sorrow and suffering?”

That question seemed to come out of nowhere. My father’s sudden illness and passing had made me more aware of the sufferings in this world. This awareness had helped me in the past, as it served as a reminder of my duty to serve those in need, and in this sense of duty, my own grief had felt small. But it didn’t help that night. The more I thought about the sufferings of others, the more I blamed myself for bringing Maggie into this world.

“We will try our best to provide for her and save up for her future.” That’s what my husband would say. In fact, he has made a habit of saying this since Maggie’s birth. But we are falling short even on that front. We had failed to keep up with the savings goals we set for Maggie’s 529 account for over a year, as my father’s medical expenses, my husband’s period of unemployment, and Seattle’s high living costs drained our cash. The week before, in defense of my dignity as an accounting professor, I explained to my husband how we had to reduce our 401(k) contributions to cover our immediate living expenses, and how that led to us owing the IRS over $4,000 in taxes this past year.

But suppose we could keep up with our savings goals, then what? Smart personal finance strategies do not protect us from the evil and sufferings of this world. A world with multiple wars going on. A world where infants can be taken hostage and pregnant women murdered in cold blood. A world where people seem no longer capable of engaging in civil discourse over controversial topics. A world where someone you had loved and counted on for your whole life would suddenly become paralyzed and remain that way for the final three months of his life.

Thus my thoughts turned and slipped along this downward spiral. “Oh God, I don’t want any of this! And I don’t want Maggie to experience any of this!” I buried my

face in the pillow and wept silently, feeling like a toddler myself throwing a temper tantrum at God.

If only I could let time freeze—no, not just freeze. Turn it back. To a time when my father was still alive and healthy. A time when I was young and worry-free. And just stay there. A Neverland for me and my family.

Then I felt ashamed. I am a mother now! I’m supposed to be a strong and courageous role model for Maggie, and yet, here I am, mourning my own childhood. Had I become an escapist?

Then I remembered a message I received from a church friend the day my father passed. “May our Lord Himself console you.” So true. I didn’t want anyone to see me in this pathetic state. Not even those closest to me. I could only count on God now.

“Dear Lord, please! Be my consolation!” I prayed. Slowly I calmed down, and then I heard it. “I will console you. Just turn your gaze on me. See beyond the smoke and mirrors and look at me.”

That voice struck me. It reminded me of the verses that I read that morning: “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:5-6).

What was my mind set on when I was overcome by grief? When I wanted to escape into Neverland? When I was anxious about my personal finances and the financial future of Maggie?

Worldly comfort and financial security. My childhood days when my parents carried all the burdens for me. Those were the things that I tried so hard to grasp, and every time they slipped away like quicksand, my heart would tighten with fear and sorrow.

I did not set my mind on what the Spirit desired.

“Well, God. You got me there,” I thought, “surely You have the cure now that You’ve pointed out my symptoms.”

With that thought, I drifted into sleep.

Then came Easter Sunday. I was blown away when the worship team started singing “Because He Lives.”

How sweet to hold our newborn baby
And feel the pride and joy he gives
But greater still the calm assurance
This child can face uncertain days Because Christ lives

This was, of course, not the first time I had heard this hymn. And I was already familiar with its background story. But to hear it there and then. At Easter Sunday worship, right after my “temper tantrum” the night before.

God knew every thought of mine. The fact that he used this song, a song written by a mother stricken with agony and fear after a traumatic experience and the birth of her third child, to answer my prayers the night before, was nothing short of a miracle.

Filled with wonder and awe, with tears trickling down my face, I looked around. And it dawned on me that almost everyone who was sitting near me that day was going through sufferings of their own. One lost her husband several years ago and became a single mother of two young children. Another was grappling with mental health issues. Yet another was often overwhelmed with the intense caring need of her aging parents. And yet, there they were, radiant with joy and hope, singing praise to our Lord.

Then I was reminded of the second half of Romans Chapter 8 that I read in the morning. “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us….For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently…For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

“Just turn your gaze on me. I will console you.”

Surely He did. When my gaze was on this world, I saw division, bloodshed, and unanswered cries for justice. I mourned the loss of my father and yearned for his cheerful laughter and warm hugs. When my gaze turned toward Jesus our Lord, I saw His sacrifice on the cross, His victory over death, and His promise for justice and peace. I remembered the eternity of our Father’s love, which was the source of the love and bond that my father and I had shared, and I was thankful that neither my father nor I will ever

be separated from that love. I wiped away my tears and stretched out my arms as I sang out loud:

“Because He lives I can face tomorrow
Because He lives all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living just because He lives.”

What a beautiful Easter.

Center for Faithful Business

Seattle Pacific University

Dr. JoAnn Flett, Executive Director

Email

cfb@spu.edu

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