This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. [Psalm 118:24 (ESV)]
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises! [Psalm 98:4 (ESV)]
Upon receiving an invitation from a business acquaintance to a “Celebrate Life” picnic, my first response was “Who died?” The words “It is just for fun!” along with the promise of pony rides, moonwalk, magician and games seemed rather odd for a Celebration of Life. That this was the 19th such picnic further confused me. Fortunately, accompanying the invitation was a brief note explaining that nineteen years ago his son had overcome serious health issues and every year since his family has gathered with friends and family to celebrate. Rather than celebrating the life of someone who died, they were celebrating that he lived!
Indeed, their son Jeffrey had a challenging time nineteen years ago when he was diagnosed with leukemia. All hope was lost for the child’s survival until a match was found and he received a bone-marrow transplant. That first picnic was a way for his parents to celebrate their son’s return to life, to thank people for their support and prayers during his illness, and to honor the bone-marrow donor who came north from Texas just for the picnic. The years since then have continued to bring major health challenges to Jeffrey; blessedly, he’s made a miraculous recovery every time. Although the young man continues to have health problems, he and his family regularly celebrate life—not just his but the lives of family, friends and the stranger who gave him life with her stem cells!
We know the prodigal’s father celebrated his son’s return home, but what about the widow of Zarephath? Did she have a party after Elijah’s prayers returned breath to her son? And what of Jairus? Did he throw a party after Jesus brought his daughter back to life? Did the family of Lazarus have an annual celebration after his being raised from the dead? Did these people continue to celebrate, not just their loved ones’ return to this world, but the simple joy of life itself?
This delightful picnic reminded me how important it is to celebrate life every day God has blessed us with breath. It’s not just birthdays, anniversaries or a return from death’s door that justify making a joyful noise to the Lord. Every moment with which we have been blessed, every smile that has graced our face, every embrace we have enjoyed, every moment with those we love—all are worthy of celebration. Our lives need not be perfect to warrant celebration and we don’t have to be in good health to rejoice in what little health we have. Today and every day, let’s be sure to celebrate life!
The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings. [Eric Hoffer]