Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Hole in the World

There’s a hole in the world tonight.
There’s a cloud of fear and sorrow.

The night my husband died, these words from the song by the Eagles kept running through my head. His death left a big hole that will be forever unfilled, at least in this life.

He left a young son to grow through his teen years without a father, and believe me, every teen boy needs a dad. My youngest son has an empty spot, a hole, where a dad should be, and he will always feel it. I know this because my husband also had a hole, one left by his own father who died when he was a child. He always longed for something he didn't have.

But the hole in the world is bigger than the empty spot left when a son loses his dad, although there’s nothing like the death of someone you need and love to reveal the all-encompassing hole—the big hole made up of all the smaller holes. The hole is bigger, even, than the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack the song was written for, and it's not just there tonight, but always.

When I was younger, I wanted to believe my story would start with “once upon a time” and end with “they lived happily ever after,” but even then, deep down, I knew that none of this world’s true stories are fairy tales. At some point, we all realize that even as we struggle to gain, we are not even maintaining. We strive for stability, but things keep changing, and not for the better. We build buffers against the unexpected, but they are never as strong as we imagine, and we are always one disaster away from losing everything.

Hurricanes come, and fires and earthquakes and floods and debilitating diseases. Evil people harm others in acts of shocking cruelty. Worst of all, death is inevitable, for ourselves and for everyone we love. We live our lives fearing future losses and grieving past ones.

Have you thought about why Jesus wept when his friend Lazarus died (John 11)? We know he planned to raise him: “I go,” he said, “to awaken him.” Yet he was “deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled” when he saw Mary and the others weeping. He wept, I suppose, in sympathy for them, yet he knew their bereavement would be short-lived. In just moments, they would be celebrating like never before. Do you think he wept because he knew that however brief their sorrow this time round, and however joyful the reunion, Lazarus would die again? Their sorrow would return, inescapably, over and over for the rest of their lives. Did Jesus weep because of the hole in the world?

Still, Lazarus and his sisters had hope for the future, and so can we. The one who raised Lazarus has already defeated death, and one day all those who believe in him will have their own resurrection. One day creation will have it’s redemption and everything wrong will be made right. No more hole, not because the world is patched up, but because the world is made new.

But in the meantime, life is painful. The hole is everywhere; we can't ignore it. We grieve, not like those who have no hope, but we still grieve.

Jesus, the one who defeated death, wept in the face of it. We can't do better than Jesus.

This is an edited version of post I wrote 10 years ago. It seemed appropriate to repost it now. 

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