2021 was the year I finally went on a much-anticipated trip to the land of Narnia.
As someone who loves reading but had only ever watched the Narnia movies, I decided to rectify that by reading through the series in publication order last year.
Of the seven books in the series, “The Magician's Nephew” was the one I kept thinking of long after the final page was turned. While it's chronologically the first in the series, this book was published only in 1955 - after 5 other Narnia books were already out. I love how “The Magician's Nephew” encapsulates the role ordinary people (and creatures) play in the origin of Aslan's kingdom.
One scene that stood out for me was when the little boy, Digory, goes on a quest to find a fruit that could cure his mother. When He approaches Aslan, rather than simply having his wish for the fruit granted, he is sent on a dangerous mission to retrieve the fruit and surrender it to Aslan.
Digory thought he wouldn’t be able to take the fruit back to his mother after all. Understandably, the boy was pretty shaken up and grieved that he might lose his mother. But it's what Aslan does next that captured my attention.
Here's an excerpt...
“Up till then, he (Digory) had been looking at the Lion’s great feet and the huge claws on them; now in his despair, he looked up at its face. What he saw surprised him as much as anything in his whole life.
For the tawny face was bent near his own and (wonder of wonders) great shining tears stood in the Lion’s eyes. They were such big, bright tears compared with Digory’s own that for a moment he felt as if the Lion must really be sorrier about his Mother than he was himself.”
Did you catch that? When Digory was grieving, Aslan wept with him. While it was within Aslan’s power to grant the boy’s wish and heal his mother right away, he did not. Yet, he grieved alongside the boy.
Isn’t that an accurate picture of the love and compassion of our Lord in the face of our disheartening circumstances? While it is within God’s power to remove our suffering and make us feel better again, sometimes He does not. We can only trust that He’s grieving alongside us while working things out behind the scenes for our good and His glory.
Through all the collective grief and loss we've encountered over the past 2 years, it's comforting to know we haven't been crying alone. God is with us through the grief.
And all our grief is not in vain. A line from Patti Callahan captures it best in “Once Upon a Wardrobe”:
“Grief is the price I paid for loving fiercely, and that was okay, because there was no other choice but to love fiercely and fully.”
The depth of our grief shows the depth of our love. When Jesus wept over the death of his friend Lazarus, He did so because He loved him deeply.
If you’ve lost a loved one recently and you’re still reeling from the whiplash caused by the ever-ravaging pandemic, don’t be disheartened. Know that the Lord your God, your Father, Master, Creator, and King of kings feels as deeply as you do.
As you process your tender grief, lean into the arms of the only Comforter who can fully understand what you’re going through. He is with you in your grief. Trust Him to lead you through it.
“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18