An Eternal Hope

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

When life throws you a party with chocolate milk and donuts, eat, drink, and keep the balloons.

And when life hits you in the stomach with the force of an i-beam swinging from a crane, take a good long rest on your back staring at the sky, and try to breathe again.

The thing about life is that it doesn't just stop every time you hear something you didn't want to hear, enjoy a moment, or feel a pain that shouldn't be allowed. Lemons, parties, and i-beams or not, the sun still comes up every morning. Like it or not, most of us have obligations that make us get up with it, no matter how we feel.

The past few months have included deep pain and sadness for too many people I love.

In the ease of my young life, I thought that grief was a well-constructed word. It's aesthetically pleasing, it sounds nice, and it gets the point across nicely. Now that I'm becoming more closely associated with it, I don't care for it as much. In mourning things that should have been and weren't, and things that shouldn't have been but are, I've begun to realize the poignant meaning of those five letters strung together.

According to Merriam-Webster, grief is a deep distress caused by, or as if by bereavement. Bereavement is (paraphrased by me) losing someone or something that you love. You feel grief because you've been bereaved. 

When Jesus, Son of God and King of the Jews, was brutally murdered at 33, his mother wept at the cross; and when the Titanic sunk and dozens of people lost brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, and sons and daughters, hundreds of people were devastated by the news.

It's hard to understand grief, even surrounded by it (maybe especially surrounded by it). It strikes suddenly, goes too deep, and affects parts of you that you never knew existed. My wise friend said,

Grief is a messy business, and it never turns off or gives you a break.

As an eternal optimist, I look for the bright side of everything. As a broken human living in a world where sin's grip is too tight, I've begun to see that sometimes this side of eternity, there is no bright side. Loss is loss, no matter how many angles you take. It always hurts. There are always more things to mourn.

Grief and bereavement are byproducts of sin, and sin is the tool of someone whose main goal is to steal, kill, and destroy. The deeper we get into life, the more we see the effects of sin—joy stolen, hope killed, life destroyed.

And it is awful.

But this is not the end.

Jesus was brutally murdered at 33, and mourned by all who knew and loved Him. He was the perfect Son of a perfect Father, a Father who created an entire universe so He could love what He had created. This Son was the image of a God we couldn't see, the Messenger of hope we'd never had, and the humble Servant who took the world-weight of sin upon His shoulders. He took our sins upon himself and died for us. And that could have been the end—but He Himself had done no wrong, and death has no jurisdiction where there is no committed sin. So Jesus rose from the grave.

His disciples and friends had the privilege of grieving something briefly and getting it back. We have to grieve for much longer, holding onto a hope that isn't loud, flashy, or colorful. But because of the Father's sacrifice and the Son's willingness, we have hope, and we wait. We may grieve for a lifetime because of sin's sting, but ours is not a story of defeat.

It is a story of everlasting hope, because there is more to life than we can see.

Our grief will not carry over into eternity.