I recently saw the Broadway show Hamilton. As I enjoyed this fresh and exciting view of a slice of US history, an unexpected emotional turn brought me to tears. Alexander and Eliza Hamilton’s oldest son, Philip, was killed in a duel. As Philip breathes his final words, dying in his parents’ arms, his Aunt Angelica begins to sing,
“There are moments of suffering that the words do not reach…suffering too terrible to name. [When] we push away the unimaginable.” -It’s Quiet Uptown from Hamilton
With a lump in my throat and tears still stinging my eyes, I thought, what about those who do not have the option to “push away the unimaginable”? What of the parents who lost their child, or the husband or wife who lost their spouse? There is no opting out for them. How do they “work through the unimaginable”? How do they “learn to live with the unimaginable”?
By all accounts, the Hamiltons appear to answer those questions as I did myself. After the initial shock and denial, there is a spiritual journey to acceptance and forgiveness. Acceptance is not judging the new reality as good, but accepting it for what it is. Pain is only intolerable when you refuse to accept it. Acceptance on the other hand helps us work through the unimaginable and initiates the process of healing. Forgiveness is another key ingredient in learning to live with the unimaginable. When forgiveness was the next step for me,
I thought about the verse from Ephesians that says, “don’t let the sun go down on your anger,” and realized anger could be more destructive to the person who was angry than it was to the object of that anger. Anger depleted a great deal of energy with no return on the investment, and I could not afford that. I needed to focus on my recovery. -from Conquering Despair: A Healed Heart
We all grieve in our own way and on our own time schedule. Whether that is weeks, months or years, acceptance and forgiveness are the hallmarks of healing. They bring us freedom. The freedom to endure, and to continue on. In the show the Hamiltons find that freedom. In Eliza’s words,
“I put myself back in the narrative. I stop wasting time on tears.” -Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story from Hamilton
But to be sure, acceptance, forgiveness, healing and freedom can only be reached when we are led by a loving God who lights the path before us. Alexander Hamilton put it eloquently in the words he wrote for Eliza just a day before the duel in which he himself was killed, “The consolations of Religion, my beloved, can alone support you; and these you have a right to enjoy. Fly to the bosom of your God and be comforted. With my last idea; I shall cherish the sweet hope of meeting you in a better world.” A. Hamilton
Sometimes, it is in the unimaginable, that we are able to best appreciate the steadfast love and faithfulness of our sovereign Lord.