There comes a time when grief becomes a way of life. It becomes permanent. A profound sadness envelops me. What I long to have ‘fixed’ remains forever broken. There is no fix. No answer.
Obviously, there are moments of rage and anger that point to my demand for solutions and the blocked goals I have that will not be appeased. Those things must be addressed. There are moments when the hurt within the hurt cries for justice or cries for solutions or begs for mercy. But sometimes God simply says no to my longing. That is a moment of pain that doesn’t dissipate. But we can’t cry all day every day. We must move on in our very real and continual grief. Grief becomes permanent.
Paul talks about that when he talks about the ‘thorn in his side’ that won’t go away. We aren’t sure what the thorn is. Paul pleads with God to remove it and God says no. It is fascinating that Paul simply acknowledges the reality and further acknowledges his longing. We don’t see the bitterness we might expect. We don’t hear a diatribe about God’s unfairness. We simply see a bending to reality. Paul lives into the reality that the thorn will always poke him.
It is hard to live in permanent grief. With thorns that always prick. To know that unless God acts in some miraculous way I will always live with a particular loss, a particular shame, a particular thorn. It is not a sign of weakness or hopelessness to recognize that outside of a miraculous intervention I will always live in a place of sadness. Sadness for what could have been. Sorrow for how things could be different. Knowing the grief that comes when God sees our tear filled eyes and knows our deep longing and says, “No, my child. Come weep with me and let me hold you and wipe away your tears.”
Jesus was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. With him permanent grief is temporary. In his presence we will one day fully know joy. Until that great day we will grieve. And it will seem permanent.
But it isn’t…