To my dear afflicted Saint,
I write this with tears that have been recently mixed with emotional pain and grief. I know what it feels like to have people text, email, and call you, and still receive no comfort. I mean, it’s nice to know that people are thinking and praying for you. But the words, “I’m praying for you” only seems to ricochet off your soul. And even though you know those that reach out to you desire the best for you, the stone gargoyles of sadness and despair stand heavy upon your shoulders, seemingly scaring away any help or encouragement.
Please know that I am grieving with you. I’ve felt the silent waves that crash ruthlessly against your souls without warning. I’ve experienced the undetectable weight that sinks your heart deeper into the cold depths of confusion when an unexplainable tragedy strikes. And I have met the ugly darkness and helplessness that accompanies them. And sometimes, it seems that the darkness shuts us in, and restricts any light we might receive from God’s word.
Of course, we can know that God mysteriously anchors us in ways that we are not aware of, even now. And deep, deep down we might understand that God loves us, and sovereignly cares for us in every circumstance and trial. But right now, it doesn’t feel that way. Right now, that truth doesn’t comfort like it used to. It might even anger you. It might further depress you. Or it might just make you cry harder, while you writhe in desperation, just hoping to find some relief, though none comes at the moment. I know. Trust me, I know.
Therefore, I’m not going to minimize this. I’m not going to try to give you a spiritual prescription by recommending a Scripture verse to read, or a message to listen to, that if you just take two of you’ll be right as rain by the morning. I won’t do that. Because sometimes, the grief is so exquisite, it renders us incapable of receiving any comfort like the psalmist in Psalm 77. And until recently, I didn’t know this kind of grief existed. I mean, I’ve experienced sadness and depression, but not like this.
Ultimately though, I want the words I am about to say to proverbially put its arm over your shoulders. I tearfully hope it will help you breathe. It is meant to stabilize you, not make you smile. And there is a risk that it might momentarily disenchant you, as it did me, depending on how deep your grief may be at the moment. But here it is:
“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison…” – 2 Corinthians 4:17
You couldn’t have known this, but right now, after just copying and pasting this text here, I have begun to cry. And grief is suddenly overtaking my soul again. And I think it is because while this text is meant to encourage me, it painfully reminds me that I am still being afflicted. So I am no stranger to the unpredictable hits. The good news is that it is momentary. The bad news is that though it is momentary and light in comparison to the eternal weight of glory that awaits me, I may have to wait until eternity to be liberated from it.
I know that some days will be better than others. And I know God will compassionately preserve me through this. But right now, it’s hard. Really hard. And again, the only thing that gives this affliction meaning is that this is somehow preparing me for that eternal glory, beyond all comparison. That’s really hard for me to swallow right now. I’m sure it is for you too. Not because we’re some unregenerate heathens who hate God, who don’t believe anything he says. But because we’d rather not go through this kind of affliction. We’d rather not be afflicted at all. But while here, on this side of heaven, we can’t avoid it.
Therefore, what the truth of this Scripture does is center me. Gives me a rock to stand on in the midst of the torrent of emotions that can make me more spiritually and mentally vulnerable than I’d care to admit. So for now, I say to you Saint, I am patiently (and imperfectly) waiting with you. Not for just the pain and grief to end, but to be repeatedly comforted by God. And that doesn’t always mean being happy all the time. But I’m praying there will be an eternally stabilizing recognition, that because of Jesus, we have this heavenly glory to look forward to.
Love you dear Saint.
-Until we go home