Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Nothing is Wasted

I am going to attempt to break the silence on this blog, the longest silence it has known since its creation in 2008. I have written many posts these past two months, but none of them have found their way here yet. Maybe some will in the future, but tonight this is the one that needs to be here.

I have been thinking a lot about the concept of suffering. I have been turning it over in my head, trying to find some clarity, as every human does. We are creatures eternally stranded between joy and suffering, almost incapable of reconciling them, fighting the things we should be running to in our frustration.

Several weeks ago in one of my classes, we watched the older movie adaption of The Shadowlands. It had a profound impact on me, enough so that I am still working through the idea a month later. I could write many blog posts on it, but for the purpose of right now I want to focus on one thing.

For those of you unfamiliar with the story, it follows C.S. Lewis's relationship with and very brief marriage to Joy Gresham before her early death. After she died, C.S. Lewis went through a time of intense mourning and doubt (which we glimpse in his book A Grief Observed). In The Shadowlands, towards the end, C.S. Lewis makes a statement that struck me very, very hard.

I'm so afraid of never seeing her again. Of thinking that suffering is just suffering after all. No cause. No purpose.”

I relate to that very, very deeply. I won't make excuses for myself. The simple reality is that I had begun to believe again that suffering is just suffering. No cause. No purpose. We make mistakes, and we bleed. Maybe, I have told myself, the wounds never really close. Maybe there is no hope for it-- better to lie down and give in.

Jason Gray released an album last week. There is a song on it titled Nothing is Wasted. It is a painful song for me, a song that I still can barely listen to, because it makes the incredibly brave statement that these terrible things that happen— these tragedies, these failures, these disasters outside of our control, these wounds we bear with us— these things will be worth it. Spring will grow from the cracked earth that has groaned under snow for too long.

From the ruins, from the ashes, beauty will rise. From the wreckage, from the darkness, glory will shine. Nothing is wasted.”

This is enough to break down walls of self-defense, walls of hurt that I cling to. If nothing is wasted, if suffering is not just suffering but rather a doorway to a brighter joy, a better chance for Love to be known and made known, then I have reason to hope. I have reason to believe that things that have felt unbearably hard will become unimaginably beautiful.

And that is a hard lesson, because it means there is a reason to try again. To find joy in even the darkest places, knowing that the night will be worthwhile. Knowing that suffering has an odd tendency to run towards redemption. We are not travelers set adrift on a storm-tossed ocean with no destination. We have a Harbor, a Home, and a Guide we can trust to lead us there.

This is such a basic concept. I understood this stuff as a 16-year-old. One of my favorite ideas then was this concept that maybe a life surrendered to Christ will not be easy, but it will be worth it. Maybe others need the reminder, and maybe this is simply a reminder for myself. Regardless, the encouragement is this: your scars do not have to be wasted. Your failures do not have to be wasted. Your heartaches, losses, stress, these endless struggles and sacrifices that no one else sees... they do not have to be wasted. He takes these things and makes them beautiful. He takes these aching hearts, these brittle heartstrings, and teaches them to sing.

Be blessed.
- Elraen -

When hope is more than you can bear, and it's too hard to believe it could be true, and your strength fails you halfway there— you can lean on me and I'll believe for you. And in time, you will believe it too.”
- Jason Gray