I was hit by a hurricane strength wave of emotion this weekend. It only got worse when I went for a run while listening to the gospel of John and everything that used to be comforting was just confusing and terrifying.
As I wrote before:
Since the night he died, and really, a little the weekend before, I’ve been listening to the Gospel of John “The Passion Translation.” I don’t really know what that means. It seems very true to the other translations, but it does read well audibly, and of course, I’m listening to it.
Those first nights I listened to it over. Every time I read through it, different parts stuck out. Jesus telling the disciples that they would weep and mourn. Jesus telling Peter how he would die. Jesus telling the disciples ahead of time that he would die, so that they would be able to stay strong. Jesus saying that the man was born blind so that God’s glory could be revealed and not because anyone sinned. Different parts stand out almost every time, including tonight, when Jesus was praying for his disciples, not only that they would be united to each other, but also that they would be united to Jesus and the Father, even after Jesus had left them.
But when I listened to those same verses yesterday, they didn’t make sense at all. Why was this world so terrible if Christ overcame the world when he died? It isn’t the first time a confusing verse has sent me into a tailspin. I have a much better idea about what it means to wrestle with God.
In A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis said something about it not being that he had more doubts after his wife died, but that it all mattered. It isn’t just a theory anymore. It’s life and death. It’s reality for my husband.
So verses like, John 16 22 “So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” started terrifying me.
Any verses about Christ conquering death left me confused. If this is what it looks like for Christ to have conquered death, what good is it? I certainly feel like my joy has been taking away. It wasn’t that I don’t believe what Jesus said, but that I’m not sure he said what I want him to have said.
Timing has been key to me understanding a lot of verses. It certainly doesn’t feel like Satan has been defeated. I needed to see through spiritual eyes. This physical world is not all that’s out there.
Sometimes, God gives a blessing when you don’t expect it. My weekend at the beach was clearly a blessing. As I was driving down there I was overwhelmed by all the blessings I have been given during this time of grief. People have given resources, time, food, CDs, pictures, prayers and in this case, use of a condo. (As an aside, I’m still too overwhelmed by the blessings and generosity to even begin to thank everyone.)
I had amazing great moments at the condo. It’s not just the days that feel great that are important. Sometimes the hardest days are needed, because they bring up things that have to be worked through to eventually bring healing.
So yesterday, it was the four hour drive where the blessing came. I’ve always liked car trips, but now especially it’s my most free time to think. Ariel and Zoya fell asleep for about 2 hours and I was able to re-listen to the gospel of John and the parts that seemed like meaningless words, suddenly made sense again. I was able to see through spiritual eyes. For Shah, he has experienced the victory over sin and death that I still haven’t seen.
Jesus didn’t promise we wouldn’t experience death, but that we would live though we die.
John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
Truth is very important. Where Shah is and what he is experiencing is very important. Reality, not just what we see and feel. There is a whole spiritual world out there and my prayer is that God will show that to me.