Sweet Comfort (Romans 14:7-8 )
[For] none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. ⁸For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. [⁹For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.] —Romans 14:7-9
Three months ago my wife and I adopted a little girl and we named her Amari. When I say little, I mean it in the most literal way imaginable. Amari was microscopic when we adopted her. You see she was one of the 700,000 frozen embryos who are desperately waiting for a mother to offer her womb so they can grow to experience a normal life full of love and laughter.
We knew going into it there would be risks involved. The doctors gave Amari an 80% chance to survive being thawed and implanted in my wife’s womb. As good as 80% sounds, no one wants to hear that their child has a 20% chance of dying. So, for the last few months, as my wife has been taking medication to prepare her womb, we have been pleading with God to let Amari live.
Every morning as I did devotions, and every night as I prayed with my nine year old daughter Tayla, we pleaded with the Lord of life to let Amari live. We begged Him to protect her, to knit her together in Abbey’s womb and to bring her safely into this world. We begged God not just to let Amari live, but to let her live for Him. We wanted her to grow up to know and believe the love that her God had for her and to live her life for His glory.
Two weeks ago a doctor implanted Amari in Abbey’s womb and we waited to see what would happen. We waited to see how God would answer all of our prayers.
On Friday night at 5 p.m. we found out that at some point in the last two weeks, Amari had died. My wife and I were shocked and heart broken. We had been so certain that she was going to make it. All of our plans for Amari—all of the dreams we had of her playing with her older brother and sister, the pictures we had in our minds of holding her in the hospital—they all died with the news that somehow she didn’t survive.
As I have been processing the loss of this little life I have found much needed comfort in Romans 14:7-9:
For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
God has used this passage to remind me of what it is that we live for: “We live to the Lord.” Our life isn’t based on our circumstances but on His steadfast and unfailing love. We live to the Lord and that is good news because He is the one thing in this broken world that never changes.
Not only do we live to the Lord, but Paul makes it clear that our God is “Lord both of the dead and of the living.” I find that to be a tremendously comforting reality. Our dear Amari slipped out of our hands. We couldn’t save her and now that she is dead there is nothing we can do to help her. But even though she has slipped out of our hands, she hasn’t slipped out of the hands of our God. He is Lord of the living and the dead. He is Lord over both realms. He is in as much control over Amari now as He was when she was alive.
I find this comforting because Paul tells us exactly what kind of Lord we have. We have a Lord that loved us so much that He left the comforts of heaven to die a torturous death on the cross so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but have eternal life. We simply couldn’t have a more loving God than we have. If I have to let go of Amari there is no one else I would rather entrust her to than the loving hands of our good God. The truth is that she was going to be in His hands whether she lived or died, and while I don’t understand His plans, I know for certain they are better than mine—wiser and more loving.
Not only does Paul tell us how much our Lord loves us, he also reminds us just how powerful our God is. You see, Jesus didn’t just die for us, He rose again from the dead and He did it all so that He might be the Lord of both the living and the dead.
The question that leaves us with is, will we trust Him with our lives? Will we stop living to ourselves, and instead live our lives for the One who loved us and gave Himself up for us? Will we trust Him with the things that are most important to us? Will we trust Him with our families? Will we trust Him with our careers? Will we trust Him with our reputations? Will we trust Him with our very lives?
How are you living for yourself? What is keeping you from trusting God with the things that matter most to you?
How does Jesus' death and resurrection demonstrate His tremendous love and His power?
How can meditating on God’s love help you to trust Him with the things that matter most to you in this life so that you live to the Lord?
How can meditating on God’s power help you to trust Him in the face of death so that you are ready to die to the Lord?
(Learn more about embryo adoption from this helpful article.)