Why are birthdays celebrated? My grandkids love birthdays because they get to do their favorite things, be with friends, have lots of sweet food and get presents. Others may celebrate the rights of passage at specific mile markers. As the birthday numbers increase, they are celebrated often with rolled eyes and disgruntled feelings of fading youth. Each passing year can be an anticipation of “the best is yet to come” or a yearly reminder of “the good old days.” Why do you celebrate your birthday?
I personally love birthdays. I view them as yearly milestones on my journey to eternity and something to be celebrated – no matter the number. I enjoy rehearsing God’s work in my life: times he said yes, no, or nothing at all; his healings; his winks; his discipline and his presence. Of course, most of these things are only seen in hindsight.
In our current world, it takes some major focus to see the eternal rather than the temporal. This year we have experienced the realism of how fragile human health can be and the suddenness by which economies can be disrupted. The isolation from community is debilitating. We feel the pain of injustice and the confusion of right or wrong. Our culture swirls around us like a tornado, destroying what’s in its path like families, races, faith, morality, truth etc. It is heart-wrenching.
Given all this going on, what’s happy about a birthday this year?
Paul gives a Kingdom perspective in 2 Corinthians 4: “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” Now that’s a promise every family can memorize and live from. Our birthday this year may have milestones of being afflicted, perplexed, persecuted and struck down, BUT we are not crushed, in despair, forsaken or destroyed! That’s why we celebrate birthdays!
Jesus prayed for us in John 17, asking Father not to remove us from the world but to protect us from the evil one. He assures us we are not of the world but that he has sent us into the world.
Why? The same reason he was sent into the world – to be light and truth. Each year we live, we are God’s gift of light and truth to those with whom we share life. Celebrate that!
To our parents I say: Make every effort to teach your children why they are in the world. Let them see it in our lives. It is only by God’s grace that we are not of this world so that we can live in a way to share Light and Truth.
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
Let’s all celebrate our birthdays!