This past year, through a variety of means, I have become more acquainted with grief.
A song on the radio brings me to tears. A gracious comment from a friend chokes me up. Conversing with a loved one is so precious I get emotional. Pondering all that we have been through this year raises emotion.
This reminds me of a couple things: first, of Much Afraid from Hind’s Feet on High Places. Her two companions are Sorrow and Suffering. When I first read that book, I was in college and I can’t say I was much acquainted with sorrow or suffering. I really don’t know them now either. I would say I am coming to know them.
That’s what “acquainted” means, after all. It’s from the Latin, “to come to know.”
Most of us want to avoid sorrow and suffering. We believe that as Christians we should avoid them, not experience them, and that if we do we are somehow lacking faith. Me, I just want to avoid them because they aren’t much fun.
But my other thought about coming to know grief is this: Jesus did too.
In Isaiah 53:3, it says he was “a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.”
Of all that we are told about Him, we know that. I don’t doubt that Jesus was a man who exuded joy, who threw His head back and laughed. But it says specifically that He was no stranger to sorrow and grief. Why?
To tell us, “It’s ok. This is part of the journey.”
It’s hard to wrap my mind around this knowledge completely, beyond, “This is a good thing.” If Jesus knew it, He knows what it is like for me. He knows it is working something necessary and good in my heart.
Most of the time, when I rub up against grief I am grateful (although I confess when it comes in the presence of others it throws me. I’m still not particularly comfortable with falling apart unexpectedly).
I am grateful because I know my heart is being opened by this. It’s growing in me a greater capacity to enter into the grief of others and to say, “I am coming to know this too.”