The first time I ever used the word nephew, in the context of me being the aunt, was in reference to a creature with four legs and a tail. His name was Logan, and he was a big-headed, beautiful labrador, who had a white mama and a yellow daddy, if I remember correctly. Named after the winningest coach {yup, that’s a word} in the history of East Carolina University’s football program, he peed in my car, nearly got me kicked out of my apartment and stole my heart, all in the course of the first weekend I ‘puppy-sat’ him twelve years ago.

{When The Bear met Logan – Love at First Lick, 2009}

My brother said good-bye to Logan on Monday night, and though he lived a good and long and generally happy life, right now that doesn’t seem to make the end of it much easier, I don’t think.

I am heart-sore thinking of how quiet my brother’s house probably seems, the dog bed I found for him at Pet Smart last Christmas lying vacant by the window.

I thought again about Spurgeon saying “It must be an awful thing to live an unafflicted life on Earth.” I remember him talking about the power of God to turn bitter waters sweet — the power of God to redeem the things that really, really hurt.

U2 has been one of my favorite bands for a long time because of my brother, and I think all this through and hear Bono in my mind, crooning out these beauty-packed lyrics:

Yahweh, Yahweh
always pain before the child is born.
Yahweh, Yahweh
still I’m waiting for the dawn.
{“Yahweh”, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, 2004}

{Christmas and Patience, 2010}

Somehow all of our lives are lived in that sort of in-between waiting space. Since the only time sorrow will ever truly cease is when all of this is finished. When God folds up time like a tablecloth we’ve all finished eating off of. And while I don’t have the eschatology pinned down regarding what the end of time is going to look like exactly, I’m confident of this: The best is yet to come. Jesus has restoration in mind. And that process started when He said It is finished.

So here and now we dwell in between, in a layer of time where we know there will be a re-creation, a re-birth, the completion of Jesus saying Look! I make all things new. But we are not yet there.

We live in a very pregnant pause. And the Bible actually describes it that way — We know that the whole creation has been groaning, as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves[…] wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. {Romans 8:22,23} This passage goes on to declare those familiar words:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. {Rom. 8:28}

{Thanksgiving 2011}

But we don’t always get to see all of that just yet. We don’t always get to see the redemption right now. We don’t always get to draw a complete circle around the pain, cross through the item that hurts off the list in our souls, and put a little ‘redeemed’ checkmark beside it. Now we see in a mirror, dimly…but then, face to face. Now we know in part, then we shall know fully, even as we are fully known. {1 Cor. 13:12}

So we wait with the hope of glory in mind. We know that pain is temporary, and in a way, our earthly joys are temporary, too. We’re going to laugh again. We’re going to cry again. We’re going to mourn again. We’re going to dance again. God saw it fit for it to be this way. Perhaps because if it was always only ever happy, we’d never look for Him, never realize that the best really is yet to come.

Could it be that this is why contentment is probably one of the healthiest goals we could set our sights on? Not the kind of contentment that says “I can’t do any better, I can’t expect any better, this’ll do for now…” but the kind of contentment that says, “This is where I am at the moment — the past and the future are likely to be different, but I am going to choose to live my right now well, and thankful.”

While trusting for redemption, here’s to living this moment well, and to Logan.