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As laughter and tears collide

Our hearts are as heavy as they are light,* and it feels contradictory–a great paradox. But who hasn’t laughed through tears or felt their highs mix in with their lows?

This weekend I cried tears of sadness intermingled with tears of joy. Laughs were indistinguishable from the few sobs that escaped my pursed lips. Memories brought on floods of emotions from opposing sides and met in a wave that threatened to knock me over. And it’s hard to reconcile the highest of highs existing simultaneously with the lowest of lows. It feels like the existence of one should diminish the substance of the other–like the smiles mean I don’t feel the grief, or the tears mean I don’t cherish the memories.

But what if the existence of both further substantiates the other? What is joy, if we have no sadness to contrast it with; and what is redemption, if we see no brokenness from which we yearn to be redeemed?

I’ve felt grief and laughter that falls hollowed out and empty. I’ve seen death. I’ve seen the grave. And through it all, I’ve seen a hope that’s stronger.

It’s a hope that does not trivialize my grief, but a hope that is substantiated by its existence. It’s a hope that creates in me a deeper longing than ever before, because…

I now know for what it is I hope.
I hope for no more crippling pain, no more tears, no more despair, and no more death.
I hope for redemption of our broken bodies and our sinful pasts.

And it’s not a trivial wish–a “that would be nice”–but a deep longing for a Savior and a heavy realization that I am in a world that needs to be saved.

It’s looking into the grave of a man I love and clinging to the hope that this is not the end. It’s seeing cancer and sickness and pain and looking expectantly to a day when our weakness will be no more.

My father spoke this Saturday at my grandfather’s memorial service and declared that this is not a “hope that” or a “hope so,” but a confident expectation. This hope is faith–true faith, grounded faith–the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen.

It’s a hope founded on promises that have been fulfilled and lives that have been changed. It’s founded on glimpses of redemption, reconciliation and transformation–in my own life and the lives of those I love.

So this hope is not trivial. It’s not a fairy tale or a shallow illusion. If despair, depression and death are real, I hold that hope is real even more.

I looked into the grave of a man I loved this weekend, but I have the confidence that I will see him again. Because while I know the pain of death and suffering, I know the joy and the promises of the One who overcame the grave. I know that in this world, he promised tribulation. But I also know that he told me to take heart, for He has overcome the world.

I know that nothing can separate us from the love that is in Christ Jesus–not death nor life nor things present nor things to come, nor anything in all of creation.

And I know that one day my hope will find its confident expectation fulfilled, because:
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Though tears will fall, though grief is real, my voice cries hallelujah for the hope of heaven and the day when all will be made new.

—-

See you soon, grandpa.

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*Heavy and light is an idea I heard first from To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) at their recent Heavy and Light show. It was an amazing show by an organization I admire.

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