I can suffer an August heat wave because I know that an October is not far away. I can bear up under the bleak midwinter of February in part by anticipating the dulcet delights of May. Each extreme is an opposite end of the seasons’ pendulum, and we balance and brace ourselves against the oscillation into one by the promise of the return to the other—not to mention all the pleasant valleys between.
This is one of the reasons that Grief is so painful. There is often little on the near horizon to chart by or press toward—nothing tangible or realized, at least. Often the seas and sky are empty and dark. It feels like a one-way journey into a tempest. Or Grief seems permanent and inert. A fractured family, an abandoned marriage, death, disappointment, destruction. They can feel like descents without hope of ascent; sterility and emptiness where fruitfulness was expected.
But for the Christian, Despair is a temptation, not a fixed and certain outcome. We serve a Lord who was tempted in every way that we are—yet without sin. He was a Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief. Yet, for the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, suffered its shame, and did ascend—conquering and victorious. It is, we might say, impossible for God to despair.
“If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:19-20)
The Christian’s trials and tribulations are not any less painful or agonizing. They are not any more brief. They do not always blossom (in this life) into a correlating blessing. But they are, like the seasons, temporal. They are light and momentary compared with the weight of glory. The Christian grieves “until”—until the weight is lifted and clouds are parted, or until the faith becomes sight.
“Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.” (Psalm 30:5b)
Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus.
August 8, 2020