Best of Daily Reflections: Superman and the Scream of All CreationDaily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
One common translation of blessed is “happy.” In saying “happy are the mourners,” Jesus makes a contribution to the lexicon of oxymorons. An oxymoron is a figure of speech that relates apparently contradictory concepts, like “sweet and sour,” “deafening silence,” or “virtual reality.” But how can mourning bring happiness?
Jesus was the great mourner. We know him as the man of sorrows and acquainted with griefs (Isa. 53). There is so much in this world to mourn. Grief over our own willful disobedience to God and the misery it brings to others. Sympathetic mourning for the afflictions of others. Grief over the loss of things we love. Grief over those whose souls are perishing.
In 1893, Edvard Munch was walking with friends at sunset beside a fjord. Later he recalled the scene: “Suddenly the sky turned blood red—there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city. I stood there trembling with anxiety, and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.” When Munch returned home, he attempted to paint what he had seen. It’s a simple painting of a distended face with a wailing mouth cradled by hands beneath a brooding sky. It looks almost like something a child would paint. It’s titled, “The Scream,” and it recently sold at auction for more than $120 million. Why would someone pay such a price for such a painting? Because we all know that primal scream. Something about it resonates with our soul. There is so much to mourn.
Jesus is the great mourner, yet ironically, no one ever promised more happiness and joy than Jesus. Like all good oxymorons, these apparent opposites are part of each other. To experience true joy and happiness, it’s also necessary to know grief and sorrow. In the movie Superman Returns, Superman takes Lois Lane’s hands, and they levitate high above the sparkling city lights that stretch from horizon to horizon. Superman asks Lois, “What do you hear?” She answers, “I don’t hear anything.” Superman replies, “I hear everything.”
I’d rather not hear everything—especially the primal scream. I prefer life in my protective cocoon. But the way of discipleship is also the way of mourning. It is the way, as the saying goes, of letting your heart be broken over the things that break Jesus’ heart.
Do not fear the things that make you mourn. Don’t hide from the world’s pain. Remember that to mourn in the company of Jesus is also to experience a mysteriously joyful comfort.
FOR FURTHER REFLECTION:
Make a list of the things you have grieved most in your life. How do you typically respond to grief? How do you think it might change the painful experience of grief to grieve in the conscious presence of Jesus?
Lord Jesus, why is there so much suffering in the world? Why do you let our griefs multiply? You are “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,” and so I assume that you are the expert on mourning. Teach me how to grieve but with hope. Help me to mourn in the mysterious joy of your presence. Amen.