• Bethany Brown

Grief and Joy

I’ve been thinking a lot about sorrow lately. I know how that sounds, but I promise not to try and drown you in emotions. It’s just that this Spring I had a series of those moments I think we all get where something tiny and innocent like the smell of peaches or the taste of blueberries triggers an avalanche of grief or sadness or some other emotion you thought you’d dealt with. But here it is, rearing its ugly head. Again.

This particular bout of emotion for me stemmed from preparing to come to Kenya. I lived here for four years, going to high school in a boarding situation. I survived one of the hardest, most painful seasons of my life in those years. I also made some of the best friends I’ll ever have. My heart broke when I left and in a way, it broke again when I decided to come back.

Looking at the crowd of wheelchairs we’ve sorted to prepare for today‘s distribution, I keep thinking about the joy people will feel to have wheels. But also about the sorrow and grief each chair represents. Each chair is a reminder of the brokenness in our world. Of some kind of personal crisis in a family, a community. I know we will feel joy today that we can help, mixed with sorrow that we can’t do more. But even this is a sign of the coming of God’s kingdom. A reminder that things are not what they should be, and a picture of how God is making all things new.

A prayer hangs over my desk at work that makes this idea clear: (taken from Every Moment Holy) “Lord, let your children learn to grieve well in this life, knowing that sorrow will carve the spaces in our hearts that joy will one day fill.”

God, today help us carve new space in our hearts for future joy, and may we see and treasure the even greater capacity for future joy in our patients and their families, carved by their many sorrows.

This is all very true, but also challenging to put into practice. I’m so comforted by the fact that we have an example of how to do it well. In John 11, Jesus comes to His grieving friends Mary and Martha after their brother’s death. He helps Martha‘s logical mind by reminding her who He is, but then he comes to Mary and He weeps with her. Jesus knew the facts: He is the Resurrection and the Life, God is in control, He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead. Yet he was still “deeply moved in his spirit and troubled.” He still wept.

But He didnt stop there!!!!!! He brought life and breathe and heartbeat back into the dead, decaying body of the friend He mourned.

I pray that today as we distribute chairs, we can walk in Jesus’ footsteps. Let us grieve with our new friends. And let us rejoice that Jesus is making all things new.

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