A life to light up other lives


One of my daughters said goodbye to a friend the other day–a goodbye reaching into eternity.

This was a hard goodbye on those left behind. Cancer took Sheila while she was way too young, leaving behind three children at the edge of adulthood. But it was more than that. Sheila brightened a thousand days with her smile and her glowing personality; in fact, she glowed through every day, even in the midst of a frustrating battle with cancer.

I’m reminded of a passage in Cormac McCarthy’s novel, No Country for Old Men. A character named Ellis said: “I think by the time you’re grown you’re as happy as you’re goin to be. You’ll have good times and bad times, but in the end you’ll be happy as you was before. Or as unhappy. I’ve knowed people that just never did get the hang of it.”

When it came to being happy, Sheila got the hang of it. She had tough times in life besides the cancer, but she was happy. I know some other people who have lives of much more comfort, health, prosperity, and length, yet they are not nearly as happy as Sheila was until the very end.

And by happy I don’t mean frivolous jocularity. I mean joy, for Sheila was a deep lover and follower of Christ.

Joy comes to the Christian from God, not from pleasurable circumstances. It comes into one’s soul and works its way out through one’s living. That was Sheila.

Cormac McCarthy’s character, Ellis, was missing something. He didn’t account for the change God can bring in a life. Through Christ, it is possible to find joy and happiness, even when life is very, very difficult.

Sheila showed this to all who knew her. I wish you all could have known her, but you probably know someone else who is like her. May we all be more joyful in living the life God has given us, even when it is a difficult life.

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