Grief has acquainted me with a particular anger I have never known before.
I’m not talking about the short temper I sometimes have due to deep sadness on any given day. Or the agitation when someone says something hurtful about our loss. Or the confusion with God which can often surface as heavenward frustration.
No, this new companion is a fierce rage towards death itself.
There are moments when I am filled with fury at that which killed my son and nearly destroyed my wife and I. When I stand at Eli’s grave, my sadness gives way to fierce indignation. It incites my soul to damn the darkness that has separated us from our only child.
This anger is deep. It’s visceral. And it’s holy.
While we’re commanded to put away sinful anger, we are also told to “hate what is evil.” And death is “the last enemy [of Christ] to be destroyed.” It’s a wretched evil that deserves our animosity. Every time it strikes it reminds us of the sin-stained brokenness of our world, especially when its assault is so intimate and cruel.
In John 11, Jesus himself burned with rage at the grave of his friend. We often hear of his commiserating sadness when he wept at Lazarus’ tomb, but John tells us twice that Christ was also angry. The phrase “deeply moved” means “enraged”, though English translations have softened the emotions of this moment.
Our Savior stood graveside, infuriated with divine anger.
Every time I stand above the ground where my son lies, both sorrow and anger reverberate through my body. And the Lord is with me in my weeping and my raging.
My fury, however, is painfully limited. It will not raise my son, it will not heal my wife, and it will not restore my soul. But Christ’s anger is redemptive. What he started with his own death and resurrection he will finish when he destroys death on the last day.
Until then, we grieve with hope:
lamenting what death has stolen,
hating what death has done,
waiting for when death has finally been killed.