October 19, 2021
“For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:17, NIV).
Hannah’s father was young and healthy, so he chose not to take the COVID vaccine. He nearly died in his hometown hospital and was transferred to our tertiary center, where he remained on the ventilator, on the edge of glory for more than a week. Hannah was young and her mother was distraught and focused on her husband, so Hannah stayed with relatives and friends for the week. Finally, her father improved, came off the ventilator and would soon be coming home. When her mother picked her up to take her home, Hannah cried for hours, even though her life would be good again.
It’s okay to cry.
God is good and life is hard. God made us with tear ducts for a reason.
Sometimes we cry in pain, sometimes in joy, and sometimes we are just so overwhelmed that we don’t know why we cry. I suspect the latter was the root of Hannah’s tears.
My pastor, Matt Crawford, taught me a new word today that explains a beautiful truth, and it also probably explains Hannah’s tears. The word was invented by J.R. Tolkien, a follower of Christ who wrote the Lord of the Rings trilogy. In Tolkien’s own words:
“I coined the word ‘eucatastrophe’: the sudden happy turn in a story which pierces you with a joy that brings tears (which I argued it is the highest function of fairy-stories to produce). And I was there led to the view that it produces its peculiar effect because it is a sudden glimpse of Truth….”1
Tolkien best depicts this new word with lines spoken by Sam to Gandalf in The Return of the King: “Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue?”3
Elsewhere, Tolkien expands his understanding of eucatastrophe and truth:
“The Birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe of Man’s history. The Resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of the Incarnation. This story begins and ends in joy. It has pre-eminently the ‘inner consistency of reality.’ There is no tale ever told that men would rather find was true, and none which so many skeptical men have accepted as true….”2
All of Hannah’s sad had come untrue when her daddy was healed. All of life’s sadness for all who love our Lord is going to come untrue one day, and we will then cry Hannah’s tears.
For the eucatastrophe of human history was the incarnation. The eucatastrophe of Jesus’ life was the resurrection, and the eucatastrophe for all of creation will come with the return of our King, our “sudden glimpse of Truth.”1
I praise You and thank You for the truth of life we will see one day, probably with wonderful tears.
1 J.R. Tolkien, On Fairy Tales
2 J.R. Tolkien, The Monsters and the Critic and Other Essays
3 J.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King