But the theological dimension of my love for her is helping me to cope. What I mean by that expression is my awareness that to love and to be loved are gifts of God, for which I am immensely and constantly grateful to God, and because of which I can never take any friend or loved one for granted. It was our shared theological understanding of love that enabled Margie and me to savor our love for each other, as described in my earlier post (see SAVORING LOVE). We realized that “love is from God,” as John put it so directly in his first letter (4:7).
The theological dimension of love also includes taking seriously John’s affirmation that “God is love” (I John 4:8b), and since God is eternal, God’s love is eternal. In the months following the diagnosis of Margie’s fatal disease, we took comfort from the thought that because our love was a gift of God’s love, then our love, too, must be eternal. Death cannot destroy it. What form it will take, I have not the slightest idea. But that it will continue beyond this life as part of God’s love, I am convinced, because God’s love is eternal. That was the most comforting thought to both of us.
Another thing we Christians have to remember is that eternal life begins not after we die, but the moment we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior. It is a current and continuing relationship that does not end when we are buried in the dust of the earth. “I write this to you,” said John, “in order that you may know that you have eternal life”(I John 5:13 )—present tense! “And this is eternal life,” said Jesus in his prayer of intercession for his disciples, “that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3, RSV). There we have Jesus’ own definition of eternal life —again, present tense!
But as I also have said in previous articles, I do not grieve as one who has no hope. As a Christian I have more than hope, for my hope is based on my faith in God’s eternal love, of which Margie’s and my love was, is, and always will be part.
To be sure, that is a faith statement. Let the unbelieving cynic reject it or even scoff at it. But my grief bears no bitterness, or anger, or hopelessness, or utter despair. I have no feeling of helpless resignation, no stoic need to disguise or hide my true emotions, no desire to give up or cop out. Life still has purpose and meaning for me, even though it is totally different without Margie. I can’t imagine that I’ll ever stop missing her. She will always be the girl of my dreams —now more than ever!
And now I can see her face, her loving eyes and her beautiful smile.