On Grief And Humanity.

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.

C.S. Lewis.                                 A Grief Observed

Jesus said ” In this world you will have trouble“….grief, pain, suffering, loss.

He didn’t expressly explain however, just how this trouble would haunt us as human beings so relentlessly.

  • That so many of us would struggle with addictions.
  • How the selfishness of others would strangle our freedoms.
  • That our own wrongdoings would spiral out of our tight grip and we would shed tears over the result.
  • How illness would appear like a raging beast from the shadows to maim and destroy this fragile habitation of our souls.
  • That many of us would stare (too young) at death.
  • That anger, malice, evil and hatred are not words reserved to describe creatures from Hell, but rather lie hidden within each and every human heart.

I’ve been reading about the life of King David, as documented in 2 Samuel. Although King David’s reputation and standing as a ‘mighty warrior’ would have been undisputed then and now, and despite his remarkable adaptation to life in a region of fragile relations and frequent wars, the King’s personal and family relationships often appear chaotic and unwieldy.

When Absalom, one of King David’s sons, killed his own brother, Amnon, in revenge for Amnon raping their sister, King David banished Absalom in an act of retribution. We read that King David missed his son terribly during the subsequent years of estrangement between the two, but despite the advice of Joab, the King’s closest and trusted confidant, King David could not bring himself to offer his son true forgiveness and reconciliation.

Perhaps the King saw Absalom as a potential threat, a rival, someone who had dared to expose his lack of justice and fairness within his family.

King David had ignored his daughter’s broken heart and crushed spirit, after she was raped by her brother, Amnon, and hadn’t  picked up on the hurt that Absalom felt about the fate of his sister. King David also failed to foresee the malignant resentment that would grow as he continued to refuse to see his son Absalom after his general, Joab, had tried to broker a reconciliation between the two.

This story does not end well, predictably you may think.

Absalom stages a coup. The battle will be a physical one with swords and bows. He knows the stakes are high: he or his father will die.

For King David, slayer of the mighty Goliath and of “10’s of thousands”, this battle is primarily fought in his soul. He is wounded. Thousands have betrayed him, his friends too, but that his son would betray him also….this is too hard to bear. Tears flow.

King David reluctantly enters the fray. “Be gentle with my son”, he orders his men, but it’s too late for gentleness in this ferocious head to head with the armies massed behind his heir.

O Absalom,

Would God I had intervened in support of Tamar…..

Would God I had listened to the feelings of my son Absalom…

Would God I had conquered my pride and allowed Absalom to  be fully reconciled….

Would God I didn’t have to live with the grief that I had a part to play in my son’s death

Would God I didn’t have to live with this pain forever….

“O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you–O Absalom, my son, my son!”

2 Samuel 18,33.

We may imagine that in 21st Century Britain we live our lives more intuitively, with greater enlightenment, with restraint on our unwieldy emotions and that such scenarios would never grab our headlines?

Jesus said “In the world you will have trouble…  but take heart, I have overcome the world”. (John 16,33).

Jesus Christ’s death on the cross offers us forgiveness for our ‘sins’ (i.e.all of the above). This forgiveness is precious because regret is perhaps one of the worst of all evils.

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