There are some songs that simply have the power to overwhelm you emotionally. At certain points in life, you may have heard a song that connected with you during really great or really difficult times or you associate a song with your childhood. For me, one of those songs is Mozart’s Moonlight Sonata. When I was a toddler, I remember well my mother playing this song and sitting there in amazement at how the song made me feel, not really being able to explain or verbalize it all that much, but knowing and feeling its sadness.
As I grew older, I could see why she would play this song so frequently. The song, in general, reflects a deep sadness associated with the human condition as a result of the corrosion, corruption and decay ushered into the world through a single act of defiance and distrust of God Himself within the Garden of Eden, and through this act to all of humanity and creation itself. At a personal level, this song is associated with my mother, whose life consisted of a deep sadness and scars from a past laden with abuse of various kinds and degrees, spanning the spectrum from horrific to bad. Her pain was our pain as a family growing up, as it broke her mind. In and out of psyche wards, she loved us all deeply but was unable to cope with reality as a result of the damage inflicted upon her. And it didn’t end well. She progressively got worse, ending with her death three weeks after my wife and I married in 2001.
Driving into work today, listening to WRR 101.1, this song came on and immediately, the thoughts and emotions of sitting in the room listening to my mom play this song came back. It’s times like these that the weight of the sadness of this world can get to you, especially on a Monday morning. And it’s times like these that the weight of personal hurts and pains of the past quickly surface, catching you off-guard. Her absence has always been hard to a greater or lesser extent. Yet, when music comes on immediately connecting past events or moments in your life, the difficulty is greater.
In these moments, I have to quickly turn to Him in prayer, scripture or singing praises to Him that fills the hole, the void left in the wake of a loved one’s passing or some other moment in the past you can never have back. It’s these moments you have to begin fighting for joy in Christ, through Him by His Spirit and the promises offered in the gospel, the good news of His life perfectly lived, His death satisfying divine justice, and His resurrection promising a future in glory where every tear will be wiped from every eye. And this isn’t some mere ethereal, abstract thought: it is a definitive, historical, accomplished work, that is ours through faith. And not only is it some idea out there as it were, but we’re united to Christ in our very being and He’s given us Himself by His Holy Spirit. So God is nearer than ever before, dwelling in our hearts, just as in the Holy of Holies in the Old Testament. We are now the temples of God.
Even though we may possess this joy that is ours through faith and through our union with Him rise above the pain to some degree, the pain still remains and goes on long after events that cause you to hurt. It is these truths that are incalculably valuable though because we know that through what Jesus has done, He hurts with us, sympathizes with us in our pain, precisely because He experienced the worst possible abandonment and void when the Father turned His face away from His own Son. The agony of this event is highlighted in the events preceding it, in the Garden of Gethsemane. Here He sees the hole, the pit of destruction that He would be thrown into and it overwhelms His soul the night before. We can’t imagine the horror of what He saw that caused Him to sweat drops of blood. And He nonetheless pursued it so that we could find our true joy in Him.
And yet we can still hurt in the here and now. But what we know from the gospel is we have a Savior who hurts with us. He knows the pain, it’s very real to Him just as it is to you. And for me that is sufficient precisely because He is.