Sometimes there are just no words to speak…because there are no words to describe the pain you feel. Deep from the inside your heart has been ripped out and your soul just aches, as you wonder how there could ever be another day.
Even the well-intentioned words of solace and comfort from your friends are expressed to try to ease your pain, but there is just nothing that can be said to fill the deep and hollow wound. Your pain and tears put you to sleep at night and are waiting for you when you awake the next morning.
When a loved-one in your life passes unexpectedly…everything else in the world seems to completely stop and to have very little significance. All you can do is sit in silence, mourn, and ask questions. “Will I ever be able to smile again? Is there any possible way I will ever experience joy again? How will I ever find the strength to continue on? Will this pain last forever? Will the tears ever go away?”
The questions all reveal a deeper question that humanity has asked for millennia, “Will there ever be any resolution to the pain, misery, injustice, hatred, and evil that we experience?”
What a world in which we live. It is a world suffering great conflict…a world holding together immeasurable tension…a world without seeming resolution…a world caught literally between heaven and hell.
It is a world that explodes with great artistry and creativity…but also a world in which there is rampant devastation and destruction.
It is a world offering limitless freedom and bounty…but also a world that imposes the greatest oppression and hardship.
It is a world in which we long and hunger for justice to prevail…yet it is a world in which we witness the gravest injustices.
It is a world in which we strive for peace…yet it is also a world in which we are incapable of ever really being at peace.
It is a world that flows with the greatest expressions of love and goodness…but also a world that harbors the greatest hatred and evil known to mankind.
It is a world with incomparable life and beauty…but also a world suffering from the clutches of decay and death.
And here we stand…holding together the tension of smiles and tears…holding together the tension of joy and pain…holding together the tension of celebration and mourning…holding together the tension of happiness and sadness…holding together the tension of life and death…and holding together the tension of heaven and hell on earth.
All we can do is long for resolution. All we can do is yearn for restoration. All we can do is hope that one day everything will be made right…that justice will prevail…that peace will be attained…that death will not have the final say…and that love will ultimately win.
That is why I believe Jesus Christ triumphing over the stranglehold of death and rising in resurrection is so compelling and such great news for humanity, because it means that the conflict that we find ourselves within…will be resolved…and the tension that we hold together in our lives will be reconciled. For we know that a story never remains in conflict forever…It always ends with resolution. And it is the victory of God through Jesus Christ in which we find resolution to the conflict.
Tears do not win.
Sadness does not win.
Injustice does not win.
War does not win.
Hatred does not win.
Decay does not win.
Death does not win.
Evil does not win.
Life and love ultimately win. So while our pain and loss is great…it is temporary. And it is in this that we have faith and hope.
The Christian is one who celebrates the glory and resident goodness of God through all of creation…mourns the devastation and casualties all around us…and longs for the day when there will no longer be any death, sadness, crying, or pain.
The Christian is one who joins the groaning of the entire created order as we suffer the stranglehold and crushing weight of sin and death, yet waits in patient and eager anticipation to be set free from the bondage to decay.
The Christian is one who regularly commemorates the tension of life and death through the Lord’s Supper…remembering the life and death of Christ, carrying the tension of life and death with us presently, and anticipating a future in the Age to Come in which we will break bread and take the cup together in celebration as we eat it new with Christ at the renewal of all things.
Together we presently join our friends who have suffered great loss or great injustice in their lives. We join them prayerfully in their mourning and in their tears. But we also join them in hope and longing for the day that will come when death will no longer have a sting, when every tear will be wiped from every eye, and when great joy and celebration will reign for our victorious God as his justice, peace, and enduring love prevails.
holding together the tension for now…