Enduring for over an hour the pedantic Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony for the glorious triumphal choral ending (Ode to Joy) is like enduring the vicissitudes of life for the glorious beginning. It’s worth it. However, if you watch the Ninth on YouTube it is easy to skip the first fifty minutes and get to the good part. That is obviously something one does not want to do with life. Even though we are looking forward to being with Jesus, being here with children and grandchildren is a bitter/sweet introduction to what is to come. Paul wrote, “If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.” See Philippians 1:22-23
Robert Frost wrote in his famous poem Birches, “I’d like to get away from earth awhile and then come back to it and begin over. May no fate willfully misunderstand me and half grant what I wish and snatch me away not to return. Earth’s the right place for love: I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.” Obviously he wasn’t of the same frame of mind as Paul but he was right about one thing. Earth is the right place for love. It is here that we learn how we will live in heaven.
When life’s issues become almost unbearable and we are tempted to abandon hope remember Beethoven’s Ninth. The glorious end is coming and for us it will be a glorious beginning.
Written by Roger Bothwell on April 18, 2016
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