Monday, January 28, 2013

Acquainted with grief

This past year, through a variety of means, I feel like I have become more acquainted with grief. I am often caught off guard by how quickly I am brought to tears by a song on the radio, a gracious comment from a friend, a conversation with a loved one, ponderings about all that we have been through this year.

This reminds me of a couple things: first, of Much Afraid from Hind's Feet on High Places. She is given two companions which are Sorrow and Suffering. When I first read that book, I was in college and I can't say I was much acquainted with sorrow or suffering. The argument could be made that I really don't know them now either. I would say I am coming to know them.

That's what "acquainted" means, after all. It's from the Latin, "to come to know." I believe most people want to avoid sorrow and suffering. They even believe that as Christians we are meant to avoid them, not to experience them, that if we do we are somehow lacking faith. Me, I just want to avoid them because they aren't much fun.

But my other thought about being acquainted with grief is: Jesus was. In Isaiah 53:3, it says he was "a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief." I find it interesting that of all the things we could be told about Him, we know that. I don't doubt that Jesus was a man who exuded joy, who could throw His head back and laugh. But we are told specifically that He was no stranger to sorrow and grief. Why? I think to tell us, "It's ok. This is part of the journey."

I feel like my heart can't even wrap itself around this knowledge completely, beyond, "This is a good thing." If Jesus knew it, He knows what it is like for me, and He knows that it is working something necessary and good in my heart. Most of the time, when I rub up against grief I am grateful (although I confess when it comes in the presence of others it throws me because I'm still not particularly comfortable with falling apart unexpectedly). I am grateful because I sense that it means my heart is being opened by this, that it's hopefully developing in me a greater capacity to enter in to the grief of others and to say, "I am coming to know this too."

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