In the midst of my health struggles, it took a movie quote to shake me from my despair and remind me of the core of Christian hope. It came from the movie Return of the King. Faramir is comforting Éowyn, who can only see death and despair in both her own future and the future of the world. The scene goes like this:
Éowyn: The city has fallen silent. There is no warmth left in the sun. It grows so cold.
Faramir: It’s just the damp of the first spring rain. I do not believe this darkness will endure.
I was captivated by Faramir’s perspective. It’s the idea of seeing sorrow as not an end to life, but as a cultivator of life. Faramir’s words in the movie draw near to Truth. Just as Faramir and Éowyn stood in the Houses of Healing in a darkening world just before the dawn of the king’s return, so we stand in history watching the darkness thicken and straining to make out the first light of dawn. Like Faramir, we have the task of looking past the shadows to the coming hope. Unlike Faramir’s, our hope is a certain one.
Our Hope Redefines Sorrow
Romans 8:22 says, “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.”
Scripture flips the way we see sorrow on its head. It gives us an idea so wild it seems like empty optimism, but not before asserting it as truth. This is a hope based on a knowing. What would it look like to see the world’s groaning and writhing as childbirth instead of death throes? To see even the worst sufferings as only a preparation for deeper joy? In the midst of weeping, we can cradle this hope against our chest. This hope reframes suffering, pain, and even death entirely. It works backward to recontextualize past sorrows even as it works in present pain. This is Christ on the move in our stories.
“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison….” (2 Corinthians 4:17)
In all its death-defying absurdity, it suits God entirely. This is a truth that comes from a Savior who brings us healing with His wounds, brings us joy through His sorrows, and brings us freedom by His burdens. He tramples upon our worldly cynicism with His greater wisdom. This is a Savior who hijacks death to prepare us for greater life, and eclipses the heaviness of present burdens with the weight of future joy.
Our Hope Shows Us How to Weep
As with every truth, there is folly in twisting it. We can falsely assume that weeping is inappropriate, misusing hope as a sledgehammer to try and beat down our natural responses to suffering. Sometimes, contrary to the example of Christ, we can plaster on a false smile in the face of sorrow and pretend it doesn’t hurt. Hope and heartache are not mutually exclusive. The joy of childbirth recontextualizes the agony, but it doesn’t take away any of the pain. If we are to truly follow in the footsteps of our Savior, we must weep as well as laugh. There is a holiness even in our weeping.
Rather than tell us to stop weeping, this hope bids us to weep well. Both the pain and the accompanying weeping prepare us for joy. Even now, God is sprouting life in the cracks of our broken hearts. Even now, our tears water the seeds of future joy. We do not have to view our weeping with fear and suspicion, like an unpleasant stranger we avoid eye contact with when walking down the street. We can let ourselves weep, knowing that even a torrent of grief will never overcome us.
As Chesterton writes in Orthodoxy, “Melancholy should be an innocent interlude, a tender and fugitive frame of mind; praise should be the permanent pulsation of the soul. Pessimism is at best an emotional half-holiday; joy is the uproarious labor by which all things live. We can take our own tears more lightly than we could take the tremendous levities of the angels.”
Weeping is the intermission; joy is the play. Christian hope enables us to weep well knowing that weeping is a preparation for future joy, a light and passing spring rain in the face of glory. As Faramir reminds Éowyn, so God reminds us to remember the sprouting life breaking through the soil of death.