I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy. John 16:20 (NLT)
Grief suddenly turned to joy. Deliverance in the midst of catastrophe. J.R.R. Tolkien coined a term for this: eucatastrophe. Tolkien himself used eucatastrophe throughout his stories. At Helm’s Deep when the wall is breached and defeat is certain, dawn arrives along with Gandalf, Erkenbrand, and the Huorns. At the gate of Minis Tirith when the black sails of the evil Corsairs sail upstream and the cities defenders are certain it is the last nail in the coffin for the city. In an unexpected surprise Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli come bounding off the evil ships with unexpected reinforcements. At the Black Gate when the allied forces make one last pitiful foray against impossible odds only to experience an improbable chain of events with the arrival of the eagles, Gollum’s desperate last attempt to seize the ring, and the fulfillment of the ring bearer’s quest.
Yesterday in Easter worship our pastor used eucatastrophe in his description of Jesus’ resurrection. The parallel is an apt one because Tolkien himself believed and commented that the resurrection of Jesus was the ultimate example of eucatastrophe. Jesus even describes it in today’s chapter. Eucatastrophe is grief suddenly turned to wonderful joy.
As the sun comes up over the horizon this morning, I’m thinking about the most unusually beautiful spring season I’ve ever experienced. I’m thinking about life, about new life, and about grief suddenly turned to wonderful joy. I’m thanking God for eucatastrophe and the resurrection this morning, and asking that I might experience it more fully in my life.