Here is a truth that every honest soul admits, every created thing proves, and every culture tries to ignore:
Life is bittersweet.
Even the greatest joys contain a hint of that flavor simply because they are temporary.
- The football team won the championship! (But how will they do next year?)
- I married the love of my life! (But daily life isn’t as romantic.)
- I finally retired! (But I hope I’m healthy enough to enjoy it.)
- The baby is walking! (But I miss the sweet newborn days.)
- It’s a beautiful snowy night. (I wish this moment could last forever.)
Last week my youngest daughter performed in the church Christmas play for the last time. She was nervous and sweet and amazing, like all the kids. We’ve been doing this for 13 years and this was the last one: joyful, funny, precious, and bittersweet. They’re growing up and these sweet moments are passing.
All of life is like that, and if we’re honest we’ve felt it. It’s a little unnerving, like a timepiece ticking in our ear. We can drown it out with small talk or food or laughter, but sometimes it’s best to look it in the face.
C.S. Lewis did, and his conclusion has helped me often in those bittersweet moments.
“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”
That explains the element of sadness in every joy, the longing in every satisfaction. They are reminders that we’re made for another world, one in which joys won’t fade but will grow brighter every day. Heaven is not wishful thinking for a magical world where all our dreams will come true, it’s a promise made by the great Satisfier himself for those found in him.
One day in the presence of Jesus, the bittersweet will be only sweet.
Until then, let’s remind ourselves that each temporal joy is a taste of the real thing. So light the cozy fire, buy the Christmas tree, sip the hot chocolate. They are gifts for now, and hints of something far more wonderful to come.