What?? Yesterday, as I climbed the rocky slopes of my day, this thought came to me. It seemed ridiculous. In our culture, suffering is something to be avoided at all costs. As a result, we’ve become awkward not only with our own difficulties, but with others. Too quick to come up with verses or answers, we attempt to derail the pain, to “fix” the anguish even in the midst of fresh grief. Don’t get me wrong. I’d love to have a life that was free from economic hardships, from health issues, relationship issues, and the loss of those I love. But we live in a fallen world and right now I’m very aware of that fact.
Ain’t no way I’m rejoicing. Nope. No way. In fact, I’m crying at the most inconvenient times. Thoughts and memories of Kiki sneak up and stab me in the back. I keep running up into little bits and pieces of my daughter’s life and it is excruciating.
But this morning, in my time with the Lord, I read this verse. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1 Peter 1:3)
Living hope. Jesus’ death brought us to life. I realized that I was viewing the world incorrectly. This is not the land of the living, but the land of the dead (the Shadowlands as C.S. Lewis would say). We are spiritual zombies and it was through Christ’s death and resurrection that we were born again into a living hope, the hope of a new heavens and earth, a hope that begins right now. My daughter has finished her race and is now fully restored. I can’t wait to see her glorified in Christ. I can’t imagine how wondrous she looks. What about my pain and suffering now? Well, the Lord is a very contrary God. We think we need to be strong, smart, and fast to get things done and gain security and significance. But God uses weak, dull, and slow people. (Hey, it’s the only thing I excel in! I qualify for once!!!) We think we need the peace and joy this world offers. Jesus said on the night He was betrayed, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27)
The world works from strength, we from weakness; the world says we need joy and happiness, Jesus tells us His peace and joy not only comes despite pain and suffering, but through it.
I’m finding there is a freedom in grieving. It is okay to both rejoice in my God and trust in His plan as well as mourn the loss of Kiki. I can do both. The pain makes me run to God, crawl up in His lap, and stay there. That’s not a bad place to be. Jesus Christ took on the grief of this world for our sakes and I can take on my small share of it for the sake of others. God is sovereign, God is good, and He has a plan. Don’t take my grief away, don’t deny it, don’t minimize it. God is working through it.