Sunday, October 18, 2015

Time and Eternity in processing our grief.

2Corinthians 4:16-18 NASB - "16 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal."

The dynamics here are difficult.  The outer humanity connected to this time and life “East of Eden” is decaying while the new humanity of our new birth is given new life day by day, awaiting its full birth at the final death of our “East of Eden” self at death or the second coming.  The tension here is real and is at the heart of our grief.   For there are some unique realities of this “East of Eden” life that have been part of our relationship with our loved one.  These can never be restored.  They are really past.

C.S. Lewis struggles with this in his “Grief Observed”

 “Kind people have said to me, 'She is with God.' In one sense that is most certain. She is, like God, incomprehensible and unimaginable.

But I find that this question, however important it may be in itself, is not after all very important in relation to grief. Suppose that the earthly lives she and I shared for a few years are in reality only the basis for, or prelude to, or earthly appearance of, two unimaginable, supercosmic, eternal somethings. Those somethings could be pictures as spheres or globes. Where the plane of Nature cuts through them — that is, in earthly life — they appear as two circles (circles are slices of spheres). Two circles that touched. But those two circles, above all the point at which they touched, are the very thing I am mourning for, homesick for, famished for.

You tell me, 'she goes on.' But my heart and body are crying out, come back, come back. Be a circle, touching my circle on the plane of Nature.

But I know this is impossible. I know that the thing I want is exactly the thing I can never get. The old life, the jokes, the drinks, the arguments, the lovemaking, the tiny, heartbreaking commonplace. On any view whatever, to say, 'H. is dead,' is to say, 'All that is gone.' It is a part of the past. And the past is the past and that is what time means, and time itself is one more name for death, and Heaven itself is a state where 'the former things have passed away.’”

Now, this loss is what Paul calls a “temporary light affliction” that prepares us in some way for an unimaginable great eternal “weight of glory”.  Glory is to be in the presence of the awesome reality of God and reflect the character and competence of God in such a way that the deepest potential and joy possible is felt by humanity when it is so filled with God.   The word enthusiasm comes from the ancient Greek word eufousiasmz EN +THEOS meaning "inspired by or possessed by God".  Such possession was to reach the fullest happiness, holiness, and wholeness possible for a human being.  It transforms us into the likeness of Christ Jesus.  This is what the “weight of glory” really is and so will satisfy us at every level.  Nothing experienced in this life can be compared to this encounter with the very presence of God in Christ. 

Our vision must be to see the things that cannot be seen.  To live connected to eternity and God instead of living in this time “East of Eden” as if this was the final and total reality of our existence and life. 

Only the heavenly minded are any earthly good and are equipped to strive in faith during times of deep and painful mourning. 

Prayer:  Lord, help me to see what cannot be seen now.  Allow me spiritual eyes that will find renewal day by day inwardly even as outwardly this temporal life “East of Eden” is growing weaker day by day.  Help me seek to see the wonder of reflecting you before a watching society as you truly exist in reality.  Help me now to handle my “light affliction”.  Lord have mercy on me.  Amen

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