Grief is an ocean,
Violent waves crash uncontrollably,
Our vessel rolls and tosses,
Land, but a distant memory,
Seasickness and despairing.
With no sign of land,
And fading hope on the furious whitecaps,
Choice comes down to two,
To give up and wait to drown,
Or hold on in faith,
Because there is no hope.
When we come to the end of our tether, and there is no way of dodging it any longer, when denials and escapades make no difference except make things worse, then grief has become that ocean that knows no land.
Because there is no hope are very pertinent words.
Faith is utterly paradoxical in this way; the loudest trumpet blast of faith sounds when hope has disappeared from earshot. And faith only comes out when there is no hope. So, beyond despair faith goes, and upon the ocean of grief faith floats enduring every pain even as it gets worse and worse by the second.
And what is learned on that livid swell is that pain can be endured – we just do it – we just keep stepping as if by muscle memory. And what is learned, also, is the faithfulness of God to give us strength we know nothing about – to take those steps, every single one to the very last. And having seen the effectiveness of such steps, without hope or feeling, but without cause to give up, because we have been sustained beyond even our own wildest schemes of endurance, we keep going.
To keep going is to float inexorably, to be tossed and thrown and waterlogged, with no hope, but to continue enduring, which is faith.
The best of faith subsists in surviving when there is no hope.
When there is no sign of land, and no expectation of rescue, and no anticipation of survival, we can only cling tight to faith.
Then we know faith, when all hope has vanished. When we cry out desperately and are still neither delivered nor are we destroyed, we see it’s faith that keeps our invisible hopes alive. But we must see the fact that we are not destroyed yet. We must see that, and not the fact we haven’t yet been delivered, as the true sign of hope.
When there is no sign of land, and no expectation of rescue, and no anticipation of survival, we can only cling tight to the vessel of faith as it pitches hopelessly in that forlorn swell.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.