Sad songs illustrate the fact well. We can truly come to embrace the fervour of passion that wells up from within us as we are touched in ways we can hardly describe. There are far more sad and reflective pieces of art that we go to in order to feel real about ourselves.
I have learned not to resent the bitter turn of life that smashes hope on the rocks of a future irreconcilable from that which was once so richly sought. And, indeed, such a hope never dies, until it is replaced by a gentle acceptance that things are as they are and always will be.
I cannot explain (and nor feel the need to explain it) the pleasure in my sorrow regarding the loss of Nathanael; that I will never know him this side of eternity.
But the processes I deliberately go into to grieve – deliberately, because they evoke a deeper pleasure inculcated in pain because of sorrow – are essentially sacred; they are so not of the world and are, therefore, so pivotally spiritual.
It is not enough to say I’m unafraid to grieve. I have learned (to the glory of God) that every grief is a doorway into the Presence of the Almighty. God does something in drawing me into him, by the agency of my emotions.
So, there is much blessing that is so far beyond ‘happiness’ but that which is enrolled in significance. Grieving Nathanael is an ethereal privilege.
A key opportunity is presented to everyone in their grief. The first opportunity is to learn that there is pleasure in sorrow, but it’s only there – availably there – when we go there with God and surrender all of ourselves before him. Then we will weep and wail and wallow, perhaps for the first time.
To weep and to wail and to wallow for the first time is to know something crucial about life and about God; when we come to the end of ourselves, then we have the first true beginning to life. It is blessed to come to the end.
At our end is an important beginning. When God finally does touch us, he teaches us so many paradoxes. Being able to experience pleasure in sorrow is one. There is no life like the life that God gives us to see the truth, to honour it, and to embrace the painful reality with courage.
There is a grief wondrously palatable; a pleasure available in the sorrow. But only with God through Jesus Christ.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.