If mourning holds such great promise in our lives, why does it frighten us? Why is it hard for us to grieve openly, or to enter into a time of personal restoration? Could it be, similar to our future resurrection, we dread the transition points of moving from life to death to life again?
One of my favorite books as a child was “The Story of Ping” by Marjorie Flack. You may already be familiar with the story. Ping was a domesticated Chinese duck who lived on the Yangtze River. One day his master released him, along with the other ducks, onto the riverbank to feed. When it was time to leave, Ping realized he was going to be the last duck to return. He knew the last duck always got spanked as a reminder to be more prompt, so he hid. After a day on his own, Ping decided being separated from his family was worse than the punishment he might receive. When he saw the boat by the bank he raced to catch it and arrived just in time to get spanked, before waddling on board.
Alright, so maybe getting a swat on the tail feathers may not be as dramatic as the decision to enter a time of mourning. But it does illustrate how our present fears can stand in the way of God’s will for our lives and a renewed sense of community. There are other obstacles as well, such as pride, arrogance, bitterness and regret. Mourning always involves letting go or putting to death those things that stand in our way of receiving God’s comfort. The key is to desire healing and restoration most of all, and to long for joy so much we are willing to suffer in order to find it.