Maybe we get angry about the broken dishwasher because washing dishes by hand takes longer. It is inconvenient. Irritating. And the plates pile up alongside other worldly cares. Or maybe we get angry because we are so tired of not being able to fix broken things.
On a bench in the shade, during a party, you tell me how there is often nowhere to put the pain. We accept God’s Sovereignty. We believe that He is good. Always. But theology doesn't soak up the loss. It doesn’t disappear what lingers. And so we live in the tension of new mercies and past pain. They hold hands, as we hold hands, taking a break from the festivities and music.
I know that his most eager expectation this side of heaven is to see Jesus at the End of the Age, to be Home, and to see her again, no longer sick but glowing with the present hope of eternal glory. They will embrace one another and I will watch with no sting of am-I-second, because in heaven? We are all beloved. All bowed down before the King of Kings.
And when they are done catching up it will be my turn to embrace the woman who helped shape my husband in a hundred ways, who cared for him, who was human and joyful and brave, and I will ask: “How did I do? I thought often of you while cooking his eggs in the morning, determined to continue your legacy of care for the man who cares for so many.”
In the car, on the way home from church, we talk about all the people who are sick and hurting. I make a list on my phone of those I need to call. He tells me who he will be visiting in the hospital this week. We discuss this person’s question, and that person’s concern, and the load of things we cannot fix grows heavier. But we make space for this.
We don’t add silver linings to grief that deserves to be grieved. Death is a thief. Divorce is a death. “You are allowed to lament,” he reminds his flock. “You can cry out to God,” I tell my friend. Together, we hold the tension of hope and pain. We counsel married couples, anoint the sick, and visit the dying. Then go home and tease each other, pray for each other, and watch The Office together. We drive to Target together and sing the whole way. In the morning, we hug each other in the kitchen while the coffee brews.
I have learned that love is not about being worshiped by another, but being willing to hold their hand as they grieve the loss of someone else. It is believing him when he says, “I love you,” understanding that love is not a stockpile that thins over time, or a promise that eventually breaks. It is holding the pain of others, while clinging to our unfading hope in Jesus.
We will not hold our breath forever. There will be a day when our hands release their grip on this tension, when the rope slackens and our fingers unfurl. At the end of the age, the beginning of Home, of resurrection unto glory, there will be no sting in life, only celebration, a more perfect version of the good we created and celebrated here, while waiting for heaven.
Listen to this sketch