The Eschatology of Grief

I’ve been holding this journal entry from over 3 years ago, knowing that someday I would want to share it and say more.

February 22, 2013

Already and not yet, the phrase I first learned to describe the Christian proclamation of Christ’s reign, the phrase I’ve preached in one sermon after another since, turns out to apply to my grief over divorce as well.

There are good days, more now than bad ones, where I see the life God has brought me through this process and the sadness is far outweighed by joy at the blessedness of my lot. But still, there are bad days, where I miss him, where I can only remember the way we were, where my heart longs for what used to be. I want to go back to Egypt.

I am already divorced legally, not yet finished emotionally.  I am already moving on with renewed faith, deepened friendships, and a blossoming new relationship, but I am not yet fully committed to this new future without my marriage. I can see the good that is coming, the possibility that is even now at hand, yet my life is not yet what I hope it will be.

The proclamation of divorced people surrounding me has been prophetic, like Jeremiah to the exiles, “there’s a plan for your restoration”.

We wait, impatiently sometimes, for the fullness of time to heal our wounds, to give us new hearts, to make us part of the glorious vision proclaimed by the prophets who’ve spoken the word of the Lord in our lives. And we pray, with every ounce of hope we can muster, that the eschaton of grief will come sooner than Christ.

March 27, 2016

I felt it all day Saturday, after dropping Ollie off with his dad, after taking my sister and her boys to the airport, but I expected it would be short-lived. The leftover grief of divorce fills just a small container in the back corner of my life’s stocked fridge, but it’s stinky enough to make its presence known just when I’ve forgotten it was back there. It’s especially common on the high holy days of life, when the family SHOULD be together, celebrating.

I read once that divorce is like death, except that you have to keep viewing the body over and over. So when I came to Easter morning without Ollie, I came as the women did that first Easter, expecting to find a dead body. Even as the scent of Bethlehem’s Easter garden filled my nostrils, and the first notes of Easter brass rang out, my heart remained heavy.

And then my dear colleague got up to preach. He reminded us that if we bring grief and disbelief this morning, we are in good company. That first Easter morning was terror and sadness and confusion before it was amazement and joy. And then he spoke these words, as if the Spirit had given them just for me: “Remember, when your spouse tells you they want a divorce, Christ is risen.” It was just one line in a litany of times it might be hard to believe in the power of resurrection. But it was exactly the gospel proclamation I needed to hear.

This is why I love God’s church, because it consistently reminds me of the truths I am prone to forget: that God is alive and active in the world, that hope is not in vain, that death is never the end for those who believe in Jesus. Grief still hangs on, and likely will until Christ has come again, but it does not have the final word.


One response to “The Eschatology of Grief”

  1. Your life has moved on and you are happy and have a wonderful husband and blended family. So ignore the occasional “stink” and bask in you new found happiness, George

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